VI. Comparative Analysis of Providential View, Materialist View, and Unification View

Finally, I will present a comparison from various perspectives concerning the providential view and the materialist view, which are representatives of the traditional views of history, together with the Unification view. I will compare these three views of history on such points as their beginning, characteristics, driving force for development, laws of change in history, struggle, phenomena in the Last Days, events at the consummation of history, and the ideal world to come. This will help us deepen our understanding of the characteristics of each view of history.

1. Beginning of History

The providential view of history holds that human history began with the Creation and the Fall of the first human ancestors. Accordingly, human history started as a sinful history. In contrast, the materialist view of history holds that human history began when human beings separated from the animal kingdom, and that the first society was a primitive communal society. The Unification view of history, like the providential view, holds that history started with the Creation and the Fall of the first human ancestors and that human history began as a sinful history.

2. Characteristics of History

The providential view regards history as a history of salvation by God. The materialist view regards history as a history of class struggle. In contrast, the Unification view grasps history from the two aspects of re-creation and restoration.

3. Driving Force for the Development of History

According to the providential view, the driving force for the development of history is God’s providence. According to the materialist view, the development of the productive forces, which are material forces, is the driving force of history. In contrast, the Unification view holds that it was both God’s providence and the human portion of responsibility working in tandem that has moved history. According to the providential view, God moves all of history, and it therefore follows that even tragic events in history were allowed by God. From the standpoint of the Unification view, however, things did not turn out in accordance with God’s will because human beings did not fulfill their portion of responsibility. Thus, human beings are responsible for all the tragic events in history.

4. Laws of Change in History

The providential view merely asserts that the Kingdom of God, consisting of those who believe in God, and the kingdom of the world, consisting of those who obey Satan, fight each other, but that in the end the Kingdom of God will be victorious. It fails to offer any other law of history. On the other hand, the materialist view of history applies the materialist dialectic to history and presents its laws of history: Human beings in their social life enter into certain relations of production, which are independent of their will; the relations of production correspond to a given stage in the development of the productive forces; the relations of production are the basis, and the forms of consciousness are the superstructure; people’s social existence determines their consciousness; when the relations of production become fetters to the development of productive forces, revolution takes place; and so on. In contrast, the Unification view of history sets forth the laws of creation and the laws of restoration as the laws that have been at work in history.

5. Struggles at the Consummation of History

The providential view holds that a final struggle will take place between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. The Bible says that an angel (Michael), who serves God, and Satan will fight in Heaven. The materialist view holds that a fierce struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat will take place in capitalist society, which is the last stage of class society in history. The Unification view holds that history is the struggle between good and evil, and that the struggle between good and evil at the consummation of history is the struggle between the democratic world and the Communist world, which takes place on a worldwide scale. In this struggle, the Communist world is subjugated by, and surrenders to, the free democratic world. Ultimately, both sides are reconciled and are united through the Messiah.

6. Phenomena of the Last Days

The providential view holds that extraordinary natural phenomena will take place in the Last Days, that is, at the consummation of human history. About such phenomena, the Bible says, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matt. 24:29). The materialist view holds that in capitalist society such phenomena as misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, and exploitation will increase and economic collapse and social confusion will arise. The Unification view holds that at the consummation of history existing values will be neglected and collapse―especially, sexual morality will sharply decline―and that profound social confusion will be widespread.

7. Events at the Consummation of History

The providential view of history holds that the Last Judgment will take place in the Last Days. According to the Bible, the sheep will be placed at the right hand of Christ and the goats at the left (Matt. 25:33), and those on the right side, namely, the sheep, those who obeyed God, will be given blessings (Matt. 25:34), whereas those on the left side, the goats, namely, those who followed Satan, will be thrown into eternal fire (Matt. 25:41). The materialist view asserts that the prehistory of humankind comes to an end as the proletariat, the ruled class, overthrows the bourgeoisie, the ruling class, through violent revolution. The Unification view asserts that in the Last Days the good side and evil side will be separated on a worldwide scale, and that the good side will convey God’s truth and love to the evil side and naturally subjugate the evil side.

8. The History that Terminates

What comes to an end at the consummation of history, or what history comes to an end at the consummation of history? The providential view asserts that the sinful history of man will come to an end when the Kingdom of God wins victory over the kingdom of the world. The materialist view asserts that the history of class struggle comes to an end when the proletariat overthrows the bourgeoisie. The Unification view asserts that sinful history and the history of the struggle between good and evil will come to an end when the good side persuades the evil side to surrender naturally.

9. The Ideal World to Come

What will the world be like after history comes to an end? According to the providential view of history, the age of a new heaven and a new earth will come after the judgment of the last days is over (Rev. 21-22). It is not at all clear, however, what the age of the new heaven and the new earth will be like, specifically. The materialist view asserts that after the revolution, Communist society, which is the classless kingdom of freedom, will be realized. The Unification view of history asserts that the original ideal world of creation, namely, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, where all humankind will become one family, will be realized by receiving the Messiah, the true parents of humankind. A summary of the three views of history in terms of the above-mentioned nine points is shown in table 8.2. We find, unfortunately, that the Christian view of history is rather mysterious and so irrational that it hardly has any persuasive power today. It simply asserts that God promotes His providence in history. Since concrete laws of history are not presented, however, it is not at all clear how He conducts His providence. It is also hard to understand that in the Last Days those people represented by the goats on the left side will receive eternal punishment. Further, it does not clarify what the new heaven and the new earth will concretely be like.

The materialist view of history, when compared with the Christian view of history, seems more realistic and rational, and therefore it carries more persuasiveness. Consequently, it has captivated the minds of many intellectual young people. At its height, nearly half the world came to be ruled under Communism. Today, however, it has become clear that Communist society would not be the kingdom of freedom nor an affluent society, but rather the opposite. Thus, the idea of a Communist society has perished from the earth. Originally, as Toynbee said, Communism appeared as an accusation or a prosecution from Satan’s side, because Christianity failed to fulfill its mission and suffered degeneration. That is why the materialist view of history had the external appearance of a Christian view of history which had been turned upside down. In this connection, Karl Löwith stated as follows:

What explains the idealistic foundation of historical materialism is … old Jewish messianism, prophetism, and the untiring Jewish persistence to absolute righteousness. The Communist Manifesto clearly has a feature of faith, the firm belief in “what one hopes for” in a reversed form of scientific prophecy. Thus, it is not at all accidental that the final hostility between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat corresponds to the faith in the ultimate conflict between Christ and the anti-Christ in the last period of history, and that the task of the proletariat resembles the world-historic mission of the chosen people. The role of the oppressed class for global salvation corresponds to the religious dialectic of the crucifixion and resurrection, and the transformation of the kingdom of necessity into the kingdom of freedom corresponds to the transformation of an old aeon into a new aeon. The process of history as described in The Communist Manifesto, reflects the well-known Judeo-Christian pattern of interpreting history as the events of salvation through the providence toward a significant final goal. The historical materialism is the salvation history in terms of political economy.

The Unification view of history emerged as an elaboration of the Christian view of history; yet it is presented as a view that overcomes the mysteriousness and irrationality of the Christian view of history. It is a view of history that can successfully overcome the Communist accusation against Christianity. The Christian view of history asserts that the people in the kingdom of the world who obeyed Satan will receive eternal punishment. The materialist view of history asserts that the proletariat will overthrow the bourgeoisie by violent means. Yet, the Unification view of history asserts that the good side will induce the evil side naturally to surrender by means of true love and eventually will save all humankind by restoring the evil side to the good side. In the true ideal world all humankind must become happy. That is guaranteed by the Unification view of history.

The materialist view of history attacks the Christian view of history as being mere superstition or myth, and boasts, on the other hand, that it itself is a scientific view of history, with rational laws. Nevertheless, the laws presented by the materialist view of history have turned out to be nothing but arbitrary, pseudo-laws, advocated for the sole purpose of rationalizing revolution. In contrast, the laws presented by the Unification view of history are genuine laws, fully supported by historical facts.