Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 3, 1999-2000 - Pages 73-84
Faith and reason are often juxtaposed as two different ways of cognizing the truth of God in the Christian tradition. The problem, however, is that there has been no authoritatively definitive description of the relationship between faith and reason in that tradition. Different theologies have had different views of the matter, depending on how they have dealt with the question of to what degree humans are fallen and/or saved. Theologies that regard humans as still predominantly fallen have discussed the primacy of faith over reason, emphasizing a tension between the two. By contrast, theologies that have a more optimistic view of human nature have laid more trust in reason and tended to see some kind of connection between reason and faith. The issue of the relationship between faith and reason, therefore, remains unresolved.
How would the Divine Principle address this issue? According to the Divine Principle, the Old and New Testament Ages are over. Humankind has entered the “Completed Testament Age,” in which the complete restoration of fallen humankind is taking place through the return of Christ, with the resulting establishment of complete unity between God and humankind. Hence the Divine Principle would naturally see the complete unity of faith and reason. Referring to faith and reason respectively as “the spiritual and physical dimensions of cognition,” therefore, the Divine Principle says:
|Human beings become complete only when their spirit self and physical self are united. Hence the experience of divine inspiration gained through spiritual cognition [i.e., faith] and the knowledge of truth obtained through physical cognition [i.e., reason] should become fully harmonized and awaken the spirituality [faith] and intellect [reason] together. It is only when the spiritual and physical dimensions of cognition [faith and reason] resonate together that we can thoroughly comprehend God and the universe.|
In the Christian tradition, faith differs from reason at least in the following four senses. First, faith as a way of cognition is normally a gift of God’s grace granted in the course of our redemption, while reason is an intellectual ability already built-in in our human nature. Second, faith freely accepts the truth of God as revealed based on our confidence in God, while reason accepts the truth of God only when intellectually proved. Third, faith involves all the dimensions of the human person (including love, obedience, etc.) as it accepts the truth of God, while reason usually involves merely our intellectual faculty. Fourth, faith and reason create two different kinds of theology: revealed and natural theology, respectively. Faith directly accepts and cognizes divine revelation as the truth of God, creating revealed theology therefrom; by contrast, reason cognizes the created world of nature as an manifestation of God’s truth, coming up with natural theology therefrom.
The present essay discusses how the Divine Principle sees the relationship between faith and reason, and between revealed and natural theology. It argues in a unique way that faith and reason, and in that regard revealed and natural theology also, are completely harmonious with each other. It also maintains that because of its notion of the “growing period,” the Divine Principle is comprehensive enough to be able to map out and appreciate all the conflicting historical positions on faith and reason and effectively solve the conflicts among them.
This essay has two main parts. First, from a Unificationist perspective it addresses the relationship of revealed and natural theology by examining Thomas Aquinas’ view on the subject. It offers a Unificationist critique of Thomas’ view and suggests a solution to the problem of the tension between revealed and natural theology still existing in his view. We cannot avoid Thomas’ view as our context because of its great influence on the subsequent generations ever since it emerged in the Catholic Church in the 13th century. The second part of the essay offers a Unificationist view on the completely harmonious relationship between faith and reason in the context of various conflicting theological positions throughout history.
1. Thomas Aquinas' View
Thomas Aquinas drew a clear distinction between revealed and natural theology. According to him, all truth belongs to either of two levels, upper and lower structures of reality—God and creation, or grace (the supernatural) and nature. The truth belonging to the realm of grace is received and accepted by faith, and hence must be revealed by God. By contrast, the truth belonging to nature can be understood by reason alone, and need not be revealed by God. Mysteries such as the Trinity, Incarnation and Christ’s Atonement through the Cross, belong to revealed theology. God’s existence and his attributes are demonstrated by natural theology.
The reason why the doctrines of the Trinity, Incarnation, Atonement, etc. are not received by reason, but rather by faith, is that these topics go beyond the limits of rational judgment. The Trinity is a mystery that contains a numerical contradiction: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are each God, and the same time God is only one. The Incarnation of God, too, is a mystery containing a contradiction when it maintains that Christ is God and man at the same time. Those topics, therefore, are the objects of revealed theology.
By contrast, the reason why it is possible for God’s existence and his attributes to be demonstrated by reason alone and without faith is that they can be demonstrated from the lower structure, the created world. According to Thomas, the creation resembles its Creator “analogically,” if not perfectly. Based on this kind of natural theology, Thomas in his Summa Theologiae presented the celebrated “five ways” to prove God’s existence.
Revealed theology and natural theology do not contradict each other, despite their clear distinction. According to Thomas, natural theology is acceptable to all humans, including non-Christians. It functions as a useful preparation for them to eventually understand revealed theology, which is unique to Christianity because of its redemptive character. He also believed that already a part of natural theology is authoritatively contained in revealed theology. Once natural theology has encountered revealed theology, it is augmented by the latter to become more certain. In the words of Thomas, “Grace does not scrap nature but brings it to perfection.” Although it is said that philosophy (natural theology) is the “handmaid” of theology (revealed theology), their relationship is not distant or contradictory, but deeply connected.
In the modern era, David Hume and Immanuel Kant critiqued Thomas’ proofs for God’s existence based on natural theology. Hume was skeptical about the notion of causality involved in Thomas’ proofs, and Kant found flaws in the efficacy of pure reason. In the 20th century, natural theology was severely critiqued by Karl Barth. Natural theology is wrong because it constructs concepts of God from fallen human perspectives and idolizes them, instead of reaching a true understanding of God. According to Barth, we can only understand God when he reveals himself to us.
2. Is the Divine Principle a Revealed Theology or a Natural Theology?
Is the Divine Principle a revealed theology or a natural theology? Divine Principle states that this teaching “cannot be discovered through an exhaustive investigation of scriptures or scholarly texts; nor can it be invented by any human intellect” but “must appear as a revelation from God.” In this sense, the Divine Principle is a revealed theology. On the other hand, however, in the Principle of Creation it asserts that the characteristics of the invisible God can be known “by observing the universe which He created,” and refers to Romans 1:20 as a biblical ground for this assertion: “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” In this sense, the Divine Principle is a natural theology as well. Thus the Divine Principle is both a revealed theology and a natural theology.
But what does this mean? Shall we, following Thomas, divide the whole system of the Divine Principle into two parts, one part natural theology and the other part revealed theology? Shall we distinguish between the two, saying that the former deals with the lower structure of nature (the created world) and the latter the upper structure of the supernatural (God)? With this Thomistic scenario, the Principle of Creation, in so far as it deals with the created world, would belong to natural theology, while the rest of the Divine Principle (Human Fall, Eschatology and Human History, Christology, Trinity, Principle of Restoration, etc.), in so far as it treats the process of our redemption and restoration, would belong to revealed theology. This would mean that although there is no contradiction between the two parts of the Divine Principle, the Principle of Creation as natural theology is the “handmaid” of the rest of the Divine Principle as revealed theology, i.e., that the Principle of Creation is merely a preparation for the rest of the Divine Principle and an object which is to be augmented by the latter.
This, however, is far from correct. Far from being a “handmaid,” the Principle of Creation is “the root principle by which humanity and the universe were originally created,” and constitutes the essence and nucleus of the rest of the Divine Principle. The human Fall is the negation of the Principle of Creation, and the restoration of fallen humans is their re-creation based on the Principle of Creation. Thus, the Divine Principle as a systematic theology possesses far greater consistency than the bifurcated relationship of revealed and natural theology as understood by Thomas. We have no objection to distinguishing between the revealed and natural theology. But their relationship is not construed in the manner of Thomas.
From the standpoint of the Divine Principle, the supernatural (God) and nature (the created world) are to be completely united. In brief, the created world, as the substantial manifestation of God’s “dual characteristics,” assumes the same dual characteristics, which makes possible not only perfect give-and-take action within the created world itself, but also perfect give-and-take action between God and the created world. In other words, the Divine Principle sees a striking affinity between God and the created world when it maintains that both of them are composed of dual characteristics. In Thomas’ theology, by contrast, God is not a God of dual characteristics but merely the “pure act” (actus purus), a monopolar God, aloof from the world, which, unlike God, has the polarity of act and potency. Thomas, therefore, could not see the relationship between God and the created world as one of complete unity. At best, he could only recognize an “analogical” similarity between them.
The Divine Principle sees a complete unity between God and the world, which naturally results in complete unity between revealed and natural theology. Widening the definitions of revealed and natural theology a little bit, the Divine Principle regards them respectively as religion—searching for “internal truth” about the “causal world of essence” on the one hand, and science—searching for “external truth” about the “resultant world of phenomena” on the other, and maintains that unless religion and science are eventually open towards each other, their original purposes will not be accomplished. Although religion and science have been walking two different paths until today, seeking internal and external truth, respectively, nevertheless they have a common purpose of leading humans to knowledge out of the ignorance that resulted from the Fall. Until both unite, the whole picture of God’s truth will not be seen, nor will their common purpose be accomplished. Therefore, the unity of religion and science—the unity of revealed and natural theology—is necessary.
Therefore, to say that the Divine Principle is both a revealed theology and a natural theology means that the Divine Principle is a teaching that unifies revealed and natural theology. It claims to “reconcile science and religion as one unified undertaking in order to overcome the internal and external aspects of people’s ignorance.”
Consequently, it would be safe to say that the Principle of Creation, the Fall of Man, the Principle of Restoration, etc. in the Divine Principle are each a unified teaching of revealed and natural theology. For example, when the Principle of Creation discusses the process of the creation of the universe, it unhesitatingly asserts that the revelation in the biblical account (revealed theology) and the findings of modern scientific research (natural theology) in that matter coincide with each other as truth: “Considering that the account of the creation of the universe recorded in the Bible thousands of years ago nearly coincides with the findings of modern scientific research, we are reassured that this biblical record must be a revelation from God.” Here the distinction between revealed and natural theology is overcome.
Recent Theological Trends
The Divine Principle’s treatment of natural theology and revealed theology is not entirely novel. There is a trend in recent theologies to remove the distinction between revealed and natural theology. In removing this distinction, recent theologies takes two different approaches.
One approach is to view both revealed and natural theology as starting from revelation. We can find revelation from God in the world of nature. Of course, this has traditionally been called “general revelation,” as distinguished from “special revelation” whose primary purpose is redemption. But we can enlarge the meaning of revelation by letting it contain both general and special revelation, i.e., by letting it cover the world of nature as well as the realm of God himself. If so, the distinction between revealed and natural theology can be transcended. Many contemporary theologians, liberal and conservative alike, take this approach.
For example, John Macquarrie, an existentialist theologian, adopts this approach in attempting to formulate what he calls a “new style natural theology.” He calls for “the virtual abandonment of the old distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘revealed’ knowledge of God,” and seeks “a general possibility of revelation” or “a universal possibility of revelation.” Process theology, with its “panentheistic” emphasis on the relatedness of God and the world, also “rejects the sharp contrast of general and special revelation” as it attempts to combine philosophy (natural theology) and theology (revealed theology) to constitute a “philosophical theology.”
Even the approach of some American Fundamentalist theologians fits into this category. Based on their belief that both the natural world and the Bible were authored by God, they firmly maintain that “true science” and revealed theology can go together and enrich each other, and that we should refrain from “locking them into two separate compartments in our minds.” This leads, for example, to so-called “scientific creationism”—a position which holds that the biblical account of creation can be established scientifically.
What Ted Peters calls the “consonance” between science and religion, which has recently drawn the increasing attention of serious scientist-theologians such as Arthur Peacocke in Britain and Robert John Russell in America, falls under the first category, too, because it is “an attempt to uncover the domain of inquiry shared by science and theology” based on the theistic assumption that God created the world.
A second, and entirely opposite tack for removing the distinction between revealed and natural theology is to not consider revelation at all. It enlarges the concept of the existence of the world of nature to such an extent that it covers the whole of reality, including God. In this case, theology is to know the truth of this whole of reality in which God is already wholly immanent. This immanentist approach was popular among radical schools of theology such as secular theology and the “death of God” theology in the 1960s. It is somewhat ironic that this approach emerged under the influence of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a neo-Orthodox theologian who, in an attempt to abandon the deus ex machina (the convenient problem-solving God worshipped by irresponsible religious people) in favor of the God of the Bible (a God who helps us as we strive to tackle problems responsibly in the world), wrote from a Nazi prison that the world can be “religionless” because it has “come of age.” These radical schools attracted a lot of attention in the 1960s, but they have not developed much serious theology since then.
Both of these ways, whether liberal or conservative, hold the important presupposition that there is a close relationship between God and the created world of nature. From the standpoint of the Divine Principle, their popularity is a sign that the time is very near when humans can unite with God, overcoming their state of fallenness.
3. Faith and Reason
Then, what about the relationship between faith and reason, which are the two ways of human cognition appropriate to revealed and natural theology, respectively? If the distinction of the two kinds of theology can be removed, the distinction between faith and reason can also have to disappear. Before we discuss this matter, however, let us review four different historical views of the relationship between faith and reason: 1) faith without reason, 2) faith as a basis of reason, 3) faith and reason independent from yet related to each other, and 4) faith and reason harmonious.
The first view, maintaining that like oil and water, faith and reason are entirely separate from each other, emphasizes faith and excludes reason from the standpoint of Christian commitment. Its representatives include Paul, Tertullian, Luther, Kant and Kierkegaard. It is a well-known fact that Tertullian, who worked from the second to the third century, abhorred reason and philosophy. Thus he said: “What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church?” This position is well represented by his famous dictum: Credo quia absurdum (“I believe because it is absurd”).
The second view appreciates reason a little bit, but it does so only in so far as it regards faith as a basis of reason. That is to say, reason functions properly only when it is grounded in faith. Its adherents include Augustine, Anselm of Canterbury and Barth. Their dictum is: Credo ut intelligam (“I believe so that I may understand”). Although Anselm's ontological proof for God’s existence uses reason, that work of reason is supported by faith, according to him. Barth, in spite of his rejection of natural theology, inherited Anselm’s position on the relationship between faith and reason.
Thomas Aquinas held the third position. Acknowledging the independence of reason from faith, he maintained that this reason could prove God’s existence. However, he also recognized the relationship of reason with faith in the following way. Reason precedes faith without contradicting it, in that before its encounter with faith, reason creates natural theology as a preparation for revealed theology. After revealed theology is reached by faith, reason is elevated so as to help us to better understand the content of revealed theology. That is to say, although faith and reason have their own independent domains, they are not contradictory but helpful to each other.
The final view is shared by Continental rationalists such as Spinoza and Leibniz and 19th century philosopher Hegel. They all highly regarded the power of reason, and proposed the unity of faith and reason based on their conviction that reason can understand all the content of faith. In the words of Hegel, “The substance of the Christian religion, the highest developmental stage of any and all religion, coincides completely with the substance of true philosophy." According to this view, reason can cover the role of faith, so that we can even do without faith.
Faith and Reason in the Divine Principle
How would the Divine Principle appraise the above four views? The Divine Principle teaches the eventual unity of revealed and natural theology, so that one would suppose it maintains that faith and reason should harmonize and unite with each other completely. Would the Divine Principle therefore wholeheartedly agree with the fourth view above of harmonizing faith and reason, i.e., the view of Leibniz, Spinoza and Hegel? That does not seem to be the case. In actuality, in the Unification Church the dicta of the first two views are preached to this day, i.e., “I believe because it is absurd,” and “I believe so that I may understand,” in order to emphasize faith.
For example, in much the same way as Tertullian, Divine Principle praises Noah as “the first father of faith” because he built an ark on the top of a mountain in absolute obedience to God’s direction, which from a normal perspective would be considered “crazy” or “absurd.” Also, echoing the second view that regards faith as a basis of reason, Rev. Sun Myung Moon says:
|If you are confronted with something that you cannot rationalize with your common sense, what will you do? It is very necessary that you train yourself to be ready for such eventuality. Always be ready to accept and do any task. Sometimes you will not be able to see the logic even though you attempt to apply the Divine Principle, but then as you pursue the task you will see the logical explanation.|
Also, in Thomistic fashion the Unification Church sometimes teaches that reason, which can be independent from faith, is a preparation for faith before its encounter with faith. Thus Divine Principle states that reason can lead to faith:
|The ultimate purpose of religion can be attained only when one first believes it in one’s heart and then puts it into practice. However, without first understanding, beliefs do not take hold. For example, it is in order to understand the truth and thereby solidify our beliefs that we study holy scriptures. Likewise it was to help the people understand that he was the Messiah, and thereby lead them to believe in him, that Jesus performed miracles. Understanding is the starting point for knowledge.|
Hence, the first of the above three views distinguishing faith from reason can be seen in the Unification Church, as well as the fourth view that they are entirely harmonious. Then, what is the real view of the Unification Church? The Divine Principle appears to contain all the four views. If so, does that make its position entirely unclear?
Let us draw our conclusion here. The Divine Principle clearly teaches the eschatological unity of faith and reason. If humans perfect God’s blessing and unite with him, their reason (intellect) will be a part of their original character of creation and will correctly “respond to” God’s perfect intellect, so that the judgment of that reason will no longer be erroneous. In this case, cognition by reason and cognition by faith would coincide. Nay, it might be better to say that reason would be equal to faith in this situation. As was remarked at the outset of the present essay, therefore, Divine Principle says that cognition by faith and cognition by reason “become fully harmonized” as faith and reason “resonate together.”
But it is not easy to reach this state of complete unity. Humans have been separated far from God due to the Fall. In order for them to reach the state of completion, they should go through the “growing period,” by making “indemnity conditions.” The Fall began when Adam and Eve, the first human ancestors, abandoned God. So, in order for us humans to reach the state of completion, we must keep our faith, even though we might be abandoned by God and face tests and absurdities beyond reason. It is the indemnity course. From this point of view, we can understand the relevance of Tertullian’s remark. But as fallen humans gradually remove their fallen nature and grow spiritually through the growing period, their reason gradually becomes closer to the original character of creation. Therefore, it is also natural that the second and third views emerge to show an increasing appreciation of reason. Finally there emerges the fourth view, i.e., the harmony and unity of faith and reason. Thus we can appreciate and map out all the historical views in the Divine Principle’s notion of the growing period.
The Divine Principle clearly teaches the unity of faith and reason. Yet it cannot wholeheartedly agree with the fourth view because that the fourth view only talks about an ideal state of unity of faith and reason, forgetting the need for making indemnity conditions in the course of the growing period. How difficult it is for fallen humans to acquire the divine reason that was their original birthright! In order to acquire it, unspeakable faith has been needed until today. If we forget about this point and praise reason uncritically in a quest for the unity of faith and reason, we might fall into Enlightenment-type humanism. An Asian theologian warns in his article “Revelation and Reason” that this mistake, coming from Hellenism, distorts religion in the name of the unity of faith and reason. For the same reason, the Divine Principle, too, cannot wholeheartedly accept the fourth view.
But after all indemnity conditions are made in the course of the growing period, eventually the time of the genuine unity of faith and reason, and of revealed and natural theology, should come. I believe that when Hans Küng talks about the unity of faith and reason in the “postmodern paradigm” in his Theology for the Third Millennium: An Ecumenical View, he means this kind of unity, because he has considerable appreciation for the importance of faith antecedent to this unity. When the time of the genuine unity of faith and reason comes, what will be the status of humans, and what will be the nature of theology? Thinking of these questions makes our hearts throb with excitement.
 Exposition of the Divine Principle (New York: HAS-UWC, 1996), pp. 183-87. Henceforth this will be abbreviated as Divine Principle, and it is different from Divine Principle, the edition of 1973.
 Divine Principle, p. 104.
 Summa Theologiae, vol. 1, pt. 1, ed. Thomas Gilby (Garden City, N.Y.: Image Books, 1969), pp. 205-9.
 Ibid., pp. 67-70.
 Ibid., p. 55.
 Ibid., p. 48.
 Divine Principle, p. 11.
 Divine Principle, pp. 15-21.
 Divine Principle, p. 15.
 Herbert Richardson talks about this kind of systematic power and consistency of the Divine Principle in his “A Lecture to Students at the Unification Theological Seminary in Barrytown, New York,” A Time for Consideration: A Scholarly Appraisal of the Unification Church, edited by M. Darrol Bryant and Herbert W. Richardson (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1978). See especially pp. 292, 295-98.
 See the first two sections of the Principle of Creation in Divine Principle, pp. 15-32.
 Vernon J. Bourke, ed., The Pocket Aquinas (New York: Washington Square Press, 1960), pp. 169-74.
 Divine Principle, pp. 2-7.
 Divine Principle, p. 105. See also pp. 3, 6-7.
 Divine Principle, p. 40.
 Principles of Christian Theology, second ed. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1977), pp. 53-54, 57, 89.
 John B. Cobb, Jr. and David Ray Griffin, Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976), p. 159.
 J. I. Packer, ‘Fundamentalism’ and the Word of God: Some Evangelical Principles (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1958), pp. 134-35.
 Ted Peters, ed., Science and Theology: The New Consonance (Boulder, Col.: Westview Press, 1998), p. 1. See excellent works such as Arthur Peacocke, Theology for a Scientific Age, enlarged ed. (Minneapolis, Minn., Fortress Press, 1993); and John Polkinghorne, Faith of a Physicist (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994).
 See, e.g., Harvey Cox, The Secular City: Urbanization and Secularization in Theological Perspective (New York: Macmillan Co., 1965); and Thomas J. J. Altizer and William Hamilton, Radical Theology and the Death of God (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1966).
 Letters and Papers from Prison, enlarged ed., ed. Eberhard Bethge (New York: Macmillan publishing Co., 1971), pp. 280-82, 359-61.
 This classification of four different views is a more or less commonly accepted classification. See, e.g., The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology, p. 486. See also Gordon H. Clark, Religion, Reason and Revelation (Nutley, N.J.: Craig Press, 1961), pp. 28-110; John A. Hutchison, Faith, Reason, and Existence: An Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy of Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 1956), pp. 97-99; and Ed. L. Miller, God and Reason: A Historical Approach to Philosophical Theology (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1972), pp. 117-36.
 “The Prescription Against Heretics,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, American ed., edited by A. Cleveland Coxe (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1973), p. 246.
 Tertullian’s actual statement was: Credibile est, quia ineptum est (“It is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd”). See his “On the Flesh of Christ,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, p. 525.
 Fides Quaerens Intellectum (“Faith Seeking Understanding”), the original title of Anselm’s Proslogion, has the same meaning.
 Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, vol. 3, ed. E. B. Speirs and J. Burdon Sanderson (New York: Humanities Press, 1974), p. 148.
 Atheistic rationalists such as Diderot and D’Alembert in the 18th century went so far as to entirely neglect faith in favor of reason. But this atheistic rationalism is out of our consideration here.
 Divine Principle, p. 199.
 Sun Myung Moon, “I Shall Follow with Gratitude and Obedience,” sermon preached at Belvedere, Tarrytown, New York, January 25, 1987.
 The Way of Tradition, vol. II (New York: HSA-UWC, 1980), pp. 115-16.
 Divine Principle, p. 6.
 Divine Principle, p. 37.
 Divine Principle, pp. 41-44.
 Divine Principle, pp. 177-79.
 Enkichi Suge, “Revelation and Reason,” Lectures on Dogmatics (Kyokai Kyogigaku Koza), ed. Toshio Sato and Toshikazu Takao, vol. 2 (Tokyo: Nihon Kirisuto Kyodan Publications, 1972), pp. 6-12.
 Trans. Peter Heinegg (New York: Doubleday, 1988). Küng sees this importance of faith in Karl Barth’s “theology of crisis” antecedent to the unity of faith and reason in the postmodern paradigm, when he appreciates Barth as the main challenger to the modern, rationalist synthesis of faith and reason. See pp. 188-91, 202-3, 271-75.