The Parallels of History – Part 3
7.2 The Progress of History in the Age of the Prolongation
of the Providence of Restoration
The Roman Empire, which had persecuted Christianity, finally knelt before the crucified Jesus in the fourth century and adopted Christianity as the state religion. Nevertheless, the original providential role of the Roman Empire, which had unified the ancient world around the Mediterranean Sea, was to lay the foundation for Christ’s kingdom on earth. Had the Jewish people believed in Jesus as the Messiah and united with him, the Roman Empire would have been won over by Jesus during his lifetime. Jesus would have been honored throughout the empire as the King of Kings. He would have established a worldwide dominion with Jerusalem as its capital. However, because the Jewish people disbelieved, Judea was destroyed and the Roman Empire was fated to decline. After a century of barbarian invasions, the Western Roman Empire came to an end in 476 A.D.
In this manner, the center of God’s providence of restoration shifted from Judea, the land of God’s bitter grief, to Western Europe, formerly the territory of the Western Roman Empire now occupied by the Germanic tribes. Accordingly, the spiritual providence of restoration based on Christianity has been conducted primarily in Western Europe. Only in Western Europe has the history of this era progressed strictly according to the pattern set by the providence of restoration.21 The history of Christianity in Western Europe provides us with information about the events which shaped the Age of the Prolongation of the Providence of Restoration.
To enable human beings to rule both the spirit world and the physical world, God created them as the dual entities of spirit self and physical self.22(cf. Creation 6.2) Had human beings not fallen, their spirit self and physical self would have reached perfection together. Their spiritual intellect and physical intellect would have joined in complete harmony during earthly life. After human beings fell and became ignorant of both the spiritual and physical worlds, God worked to overcome spiritual ignorance through religion and physical ignorance through science.23(cf. Eschatology 5.1)
Religions have helped fallen people gradually overcome their spiritual ignorance by stimulating their latent original mind to activity. They have been teaching people to focus their lives on the invisible, causal world of God. Since not everyone feels an immediate need for religion, only a few exceptional people attain spiritual knowledge rapidly. For the vast majority, spiritual growth remains a slow process. We see this from the fact that even today, with religions widespread throughout the world, people’s spiritual level is often no better than that of people in ancient times.
On the other hand, everyone is familiar with the findings of science, which have greatly enhanced our knowledge of the physical world. Since science deals with practical matters, everyone feels a strong need for it. Thus, the increase in humankind’s knowledge of the physical world has generally been widespread and rapid. Furthermore, while the objects of religious study are in the intangible, transcendent world of cause, scientific research examines tangible, material objects in the world of result. Hence, to this day religion and science remain theoretically irreconcilable. Moreover, because Satan, who holds sovereignty over the universe, attacks and corrupts people through their life in the world, religions teach one to deny the world. As such, religions cannot easily harmonize with science, which seeks to improve life in the world. We know that in the beginning, God created the outward physical body of human beings before imbuing them with their inner spirit.24(Gen. 2:7)CEV|KJ|NI The providence of restoration, which is a work of re-creation, follows the same pattern, from the external to the internal. From this providential perspective, it is evident that during their course of development, religion and science are often at variance, even in conflict.25(cf. Preparation 1)
The same discord is found in the relationship between people’s religious and economic life. Like science, economic activities deal with the practical world. Indeed, economic progress bears a close relationship to the development of science. Accordingly, religious history, based on the internal development of God’s providence, and economic history, based on the external development of His providence, have taken divergent directions and have progressed at different rates. Therefore, to grasp the progress of the history of the West, which has followed the pattern set by God’s providence of restoration, we must examine the history of Christianity and Western economic history separately.
As with the relationship between religion and science, religion and economy are related in that they are responsible for restoring the internal and external aspects of fallen people’s lives. Although religion and economy, like religion and science, seem to develop at variance with each other, they are related in the life of society. Thus, there has been some mutual influence between the history of Christianity and economic history.
Religion and economy are integrated with our life in society through politics. Especially in Western Europe, politics has sought to connect economic development, which has closely followed the progress of science, with the path of Christianity, which has often lacked a clear sense of its providential direction. Western political history has pioneered a path through which to harmonize religion and economy. Therefore, to accurately grasp the progress of history as it moves toward the goal of the providence of restoration, we must also investigate separately the history of politics.
As an illustration of how the courses of religious, political and economic development have progressed separately, let us sketch the historical situation of Western Europe toward the end of the seventeenth century. With respect to the history of religion, democratic values had already taken root in the Christianity of this period. Christianity of a monarchic polity under the rule of the papacy had fragmented with the Protestant Reformation in 1517. The people of Europe, whose life of devotion in medieval times had been subject to the papal hierarchy, were gradually liberated to lead a Christian life based on their own reading of the Bible. With regard to the politics of this period, absolute monarchy was at its height. Economically, feudal society based on the manor system persisted in many parts of Europe. Thus, the same European society was becoming democratic with respect to religious life while remaining monarchic with respect to political life and feudal with respect to economic life.
We also should clarify why the development of history through most of the Old Testament Age was not characterized by this pattern of separate development. In ancient Israel, the progress of science was extremely slow. Hence, its economic life did not develop, and its society had little specialization. The people led a simple life under a social system in which religion was an integral part of their daily life. Bound by master-servant relationships and the strict code of the Mosaic Law, they had to obey their rulers in matters both political and religious. In that age, religion, politics and economy did not progress separately.
Let us examine the progress of history in terms of religion, politics and economy during the New Testament Age. The inclination of the original mind to respond to God’s providence of restoration generally brings about divisions in a society centered on Satan. Those who follow God’s Will are singled out in this process and may gather to form a clan society on God’s side. The birth of the Christian clan society followed this pattern. With the crucifixion of Jesus, the Jewish nation had fallen to Satan’s side and God could not continue with His providence of restoration in that society under such circumstances. Consequently, God broke up that society, calling devout believers out of it to establish a Christian clan society.
In the Old Testament Age, Jacob’s twelve sons led his seventy kinsmen to form Israelite clan society and set out on the course of the providence. Similarly, in the New Testament Age, Jesus’ twelve disciples led his seventy followers to form the Christian clan society and commence God’s new providence. Christian clan society was composed of rudimentary communities with little or no structured political or economic system. In this period, religion, politics and economics did not progress independently.
Despite severe persecution, Christian clan society gradually prospered in the Roman Empire around the Mediterranean Sea and developed into a Christian tribal society. Battered by the mass migrations of peoples which began in the latter half of the fourth century, the Western Roman Empire fell by 476 A.D. Christian society expanded greatly as Christianity was brought to the Germanic peoples who migrated into this territory.
With the progress of history, clan society developed into feudalistic society. A feudalistic society was born in Europe when, around the fall of the Roman Empire, imperial authority waned and the empire sank into chaos. In this society, religion, politics and economy would eventually divide and take separate paths.
In the early days of this feudalistic society, particularly among the newly-Christianized Germanic tribes, free peasants and warriors were ruled by local princes. Political power was diffused among many lords, each ruling over his territory in the absence of any national authority. Feudalistic society in Europe then gradually developed into a political system based on master-servant relationships at every level, as between lords of different ranks and their knights, and the self-sufficient economy of the manor system. After the fall of the Carolingian Empire, mature feudalism would spread everywhere in Europe. Land was divided into many manors, each ruled by a feudal lord. These lords were responsible for all aspects of life in their manors and had supreme judicial authority. Farmers traded their private land to the feudal lords or monasteries in exchange for military protection, and their land was returned to them as a fief. Vassal knights received manors from their feudal lords in return for service as their private soldiers. While a lower ranking knight might own only a single manor, each king or great lord possessed hundreds or thousands of such manors, which he distributed as fiefs to his vassals. The kings had limited power and were no more than great feudal lords.
Religious life in Europe during the period of regional church leadership developed along the same lines as the early feudalism of its political and economic life; hence it may be termed feudalistic Christianity. Patriarchs, archbishops and bishops assumed positions corresponding to major, medium and minor feudal lords. As a king was only one of the great feudal lords, the pope was only one of the five patriarchs. The political structure within the Roman Catholic church was founded upon strict hierarchical relationships between master and servant. A bishop or abbot had a social rank and power comparable to a secular feudal lord. Acting as the lord of his church estates, he could, if necessary, raise an army from the ranks of his vassals.
With respect to economic life, this period began with a time of transition from the slave society of ancient Rome to the manor system. Some of the land in this period began to be owned by a free peasantry. In terms of land tenure, people’s status in this period could be classified into four grades: nobility, free peasantry, serfs and slaves.
In this way, out of the ashes of the Western Roman Empire, God raised a feudalistic society among the newly-Christianized Germanic peoples whom He had chosen to lead the providence. By strengthening small units under godly sovereignty in the spheres of religious, political and economic life, God laid the groundwork to establish a godly kingdom.
With the progress of history, feudalistic society developed into monarchic society. Politically, how did European monarchic society arise? The kingdoms built by the Germanic peoples in Western Europe were all short-lived, except for the Kingdom of the Franks. The Frankish kings of the Merovingian dynasty received Christianity and absorbed the heritage of Roman civilization to form a Germanic-Roman world in Western Europe. After the Merovingian kings lost power, Charles Martel became the effective ruler of the Franks. He expanded the kingdom by defeating the Moors, who had invaded from the southwest. His son, Pepin the Short, became the first Carolingian king and was the father of Charlemagne. Charlemagne thought highly of St. Augustine’s vision of a Christian kingdom and made it the guiding principle of the realm. Charlemagne’s empire unified western and central Europe, bringing stability to lands which had formerly been in turmoil due to massive migrations.
In the sphere of religion, monarchic Christianity, which followed feudalistic Christianity, was a spiritual kingdom which transcended national borders. It was established under the rule of the papacy and upon the spiritual foundation for the Messiah. In 800 A.D., Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor and gave him the Church’s blessing. By this act, the pope passed on to him the central responsibility for the providence. The spiritual kingdom under the papacy and the Kingdom of the Franks under Charlemagne united and formed the Christian empire.
The period of the Christian empire was parallel to the period of the united kingdom of Israel in the Old Testament Age. In both cases, a monarchic society followed a feudalistic society for the purpose of consolidating a greater sovereignty, population and territory on God’s side. It was explained earlier that the pope had been leading the Church from the position of archangel in order to pave the way for an earthly kingdom. But after crowning the emperor and giving him God’s blessing, the pope was then to serve him from the position of Cain.26(cf. Parallels 4) The emperor, in turn, was to uphold the teachings of the papacy and carry on political work to realize a kingdom fit to receive the Messiah. Had they thus built the Christian empire in full accordance with the Will of God, this period would have been the Last Days of human history, when the Messiah could have come. The new truth would have then appeared to resolve the problems of religion and science as an integrated human endeavor, guiding religion, politics and economy to progress in one unified direction based on God’s ideal. On this basis, the foundation for the Second Advent of the Messiah was to have been established. Moreover, with the dawning of the period of the Christian empire, feudalism should have come to a complete end.
However, the popes and the emperors deviated from the Will of God. This made it impossible for them to realize Charlemagne’s founding ideal. As a result, feudalistic society was not dismantled; on the contrary, it grew stronger over the next several centuries. Religion, politics and economy remained divided, with the spiritual kingdom ruled by the papacy coming into frequent conflict with earthly kingdoms ruled by kings.
The Christian empire failed to build a unified kingdom to which the Messiah could come. Charlemagne built his empire when the foundation of early feudal society was ripe for consolidation into a strong monarchy. However, he never fully subjugated the vested powers of the feudal lords. Instead, the feudal system strengthened, with the Holy Roman Emperor reduced to just one of the great feudal lords.
The feudal system would dominate Europe until the rise of absolute monarchy in the seventeenth century. With the decline of feudalism at that time, the previously decentralized powers of the feudal lords came to be concentrated in the hands of kings of large nation-states. The kings came to command absolute power and justified it by the doctrine of the divine right of kings. Absolute monarchies flourished until the French Revolution in 1789.
In the sphere of religious history, what were some of the trends during the period when Christianity led by the papacy had a monarchic structure? The popes fell away from God’s Will and became secularized; they were on the path of spiritual decline. Due to repeated defeats in the Crusades, the papacy lost its authority, and during its exile in Avignon, it was deprived of power and dignity. With the Protestant Reformation in 1517, Western Christianity ceased to be a unitary spiritual monarchy.
When we examine the progress of economic life, we find that feudal economic arrangements persisted even when political feudalism was being replaced by absolute monarchy. Capitalism was growing in the cities and towns, where manufacturers and merchants joined forces with the kings and fought against the constraining feudal system. New agricultural arrangements arose in the countryside, where independent farmers sought the aid of the king to resist the rule of the feudal lords. Still, neither of these economic developments could entirely displace feudalism, which continued until the French Revolution.
In the progress of economic history, feudalism was followed by capitalism, which was accompanied by the age of colonial expansion. As the consolidation of political sovereignty was the goal of absolute monarchy, monopolization of finances and capital was the goal of powerful capitalists. Capitalism arose concurrently with the rise of absolute monarchy in the seventeenth century and flourished during and after the Industrial Revolution. Capitalism’s purpose in the providence was to promote the accumulation of capital and the centralization of economic activity to an extent impossible under feudalism; this was even more the case with imperialism.
The imperialist drive for colonial expansion which began in this period had, as its providential purpose, the establishment of a worldwide economic, political and religious foundation. This discussion focuses on European imperialism alone, because the course of God’s providence of restoration was centered on Western Europe. Competition among the nations of Western Europe led to their scramble for colonies all over the globe before World War I. This enabled the entire world to progress into Western Christian civilization.
The age of monarchy gave way to the age of democracy. We recall that the purpose of monarchic society was to construct a kingdom which could support the Messiah and his reign. When this dispensation was not accomplished during the Christian empire, however, God began a process that would eventually tear down monarchic societies and raise up democracies in their place in order to commence a new providence for rebuilding a sovereign nation fit to receive the Messiah.
Democracy is based on the sovereignty of the people; it is government of, by and for the people. Its purpose is to destroy the political monopoly of monarchy, which had deviated from God’s Will, and to establish a new political system capable of accomplishing the goal of the providence of restoration, namely, to receive and support the Messiah as the King of Kings.
How can democracy accomplish its purpose? With the flow of history, humankind’s spirituality has become enlightened due to the merit of the age in the providence of restoration. People’s original minds respond to the providence and seek religion, often without their knowing why. Eventually, people will come to receive Christianity, which God is raising to be the highest religion. In this way, the world today is converging to form a single civilization based on Christian ideals.
As history nears its consummation, the will of the people inclines toward Christian values. Democratic governments which abide by the will of the people also gradually become more Christian. Thus, when the Messiah returns to societies under the rule of democratic governments well-matured by the Christian spirit, he will be able to establish God’s sovereignty upon the earth with the wholehearted support of the people. This will be the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. We need to understand that democracy was born to undermine satanic monopolies of power for the purpose of God’s final providence to restore, by the will of the people, a heavenly sovereignty under the leadership of the returning Christ.
The democratic movements which rose against the absolute monarchies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries gave rise to revolutions in England, America and France. These revolutions destroyed monarchic societies and gave birth to today’s democratic societies. The different forms taken by democracy according to the providential trends of Hebraism and Hellenism will be discussed in the next chapter.27(cf. Preparation 3.1-3.2)
The progress of history in the religious sphere moved to the stage of democratic Christianity after monarchic Christianity was shattered by the Protestant Reformation of 1517. Through the Reformation, democratic forces within Christianity dismantled the spiritual kingdom over which the papacy had commanded sole authority. God’s original desire was that the Christian empire unite with monarchic papal Christianity to build the kingdom to which the Messiah would come. However, when the popes failed in their responsibilities, the monarchic Christianity over which they had all authority had to be dismantled. This has been the mission of democratic Christianity, just as the mission of political democracy has been to destroy the absolutist sovereignty of secular monarchy. Accordingly, after the Protestant Reformation, the way was open for people to freely seek God through their own reading of the Bible, without the mediation of the priesthood. People were no longer subjected to the authority of others in their religious life, but could freely seek their own path of faith. Democratic Christianity has thus created a social environment which allows all people to seek freely for Christ at his return, regardless of the manner in which he may come.
Similarly, with the progress of economic history, socialist ideals arose which undermined imperialism and fostered a democratic form of economy. Although some historians have regarded World War I as a war fought by imperialist nations over colonies, in fact, soon after its conclusion the democratic spirit rose to prominence and began to undermine colonialist policy. At the end of World War II, the great powers began to divest themselves of their colonies and liberate the nations under their control. Upon the fall of imperialism, capitalism began to evolve into a form of economy which would foster equal and common prosperity.
It is only natural for the satanic realm, which reached its apogee in communism, to promote socialism. This is because Satan always attempts to realize, in advance of God, a defective imitation of the divine plan. God’s plan is to develop a socialistic economy, although with a form and content utterly different from the state socialism that communism actually established.
According to God’s ideal of creation, God confers upon each individual the same original value. Just as parents love all their children equally, God desires to provide pleasant environments and living conditions equally to all His children. Moreover, in an ideal society, production, distribution and consumption should have the same organic relationship as exists between the functions of digestion, circulation and metabolism in the human body. Thus, there should not be destructive competition due to over-production, nor unfair distribution leading to excessive accumulation and consumption, which are contrary to the purpose of the public good. There should be sufficient production of necessary and useful goods, fair and efficient distribution of these goods, and reasonable consumption which is in harmony with the purpose of the whole. Just as the liver provides a reserve of nutrients for the human body, adequate reserves of capital should be maintained to ensure smooth operation of the entire economy.
Because human beings are created to live in an ideal society, they will inevitably pursue a socialistic ideal as they strive for freedom and democracy and further search into their original nature. This is particularly true at the consummation of providential history, when this ideal can actually be realized. As this natural desire springs forth from within, politics in democracy, which is shaped by the will of the people, will also move in that direction. Eventually, a socialistic society embodying God’s ideal will be established. Early Christians lived according to this ideal in some respects by sharing all their goods in common.28(Acts 4:32-35)CEV|KJ|NI Thomas More’s Utopia, written in sixteenth-century England, and Robert Owen’s humanistic socialism during the Industrial Revolution in England each expressed a vision of the socialist ideal. Catholic and Protestant socialist movements have also shared this vision, one example being Charles Kingsley’s advocacy of Christian Socialism in England of the mid-nineteenth century. Their inclination toward socialism originated from the natural impulse of the original mind as it pursues the ideal of creation.
7.2.7 The Ideals of Interdependence, Mutual Prosperity
and Universally Shared Values versus Communism
The merit of the age in God’s providence of restoration has furthered the development of man’s original nature, which had not been manifested due to Satan’s grip on human life. Responding to the promptings of their inmost hearts, people everywhere have ardently aspired to the world of God’s ideal where the purpose of creation is fulfilled. In seeking for a socialistic society on Heaven’s side, their original mind has drawn them to the ideals of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universally shared values. The world in which these ideals will finally be realized is none other than the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, under the leadership of the returning Christ.
Since Satan mimics God’s providence in advance, the satanic side has advocated “scientific socialism” based on the theories of dialectical and historical materialism and has built the communist world. The theory of historical materialism asserts that human history began as a primitive collective society and will be consummated with the creation of an ideal communist society. The evident errors of this theory are due to the fact that it does not take into account the fundamental cause of historical progress. After creating human beings, God promised to realize the Kingdom of Heaven. However, because Satan had formed kinship relations with people before God did, God had to permit him to construct an unprincipled world through fallen people in a distorted imitation of the ideal society which God intends to accomplish on the earth. The communist world is this unprincipled world built by Satan.
Democracies of two types arose with the purpose of dismantling absolute monarchy and transferring sovereignty to the people. Likewise, movements to further the ideals of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universally shared values arose on God’s side, while communism was born on Satan’s side, in order to demolish economic systems which concentrated a society’s wealth in the hands of a privileged few. Each of these movements has sought to establish a system which would distribute wealth more equally among people. The aspirations to socialism on both sides have arisen in their providential striving to realize a society based on a truly democratic economic system.
It was explained earlier that in the history of Western Europe as steered by the providence of restoration, the three aspects of religion, politics and economy have progressed separately through their own paths of development. How can they come together at one point at the consummation of providential history to lay the foundation for the Second Advent of Christ? A fundamental cause of this separate development was the divergence of religion and science, which are endeavors to overcome humanity’s spiritual and physical ignorance. For the paths of religion, politics and economy to converge and realize God’s ideal, a new expression of truth must emerge which can completely integrate religion and science. The religion founded upon this truth will lead all of humanity to become one with God in heart. Such people will build an economy in accordance with the divine ideal. These will be the foundations for a new political order which can realize the ideal of creation. This will be the messianic kingdom built on the principles of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universally shared values.