It was something like a summit meeting. At their World Mission Center in New York City last month, Unification Church seminarians met the “enemy”: evangelicals who have written extensive critiques of Sun Myung Moon and his 25-year-old movement.
No hostility was expressed. The writers and seminarians cordially discussed agreed-upon topics in the Skyline Room of what was formerly the New Yorker Hotel—far removed from the hectic streets of Manhattan 39 floors below.
What emerged from the weekend discussions, however, was some significant information for the writers about the Unification Church. Some of the material, they said, had never been published, or acknowledged by as authoritative a Unification leader as the American church president, Neil Salonen, who attended.
Conference dialogue reflected much on the future of the movement; its theology, said UC public affairs director Kathie Lowery, now is in a state of “germination.” While that theology increasingly uses “Christian” terminology, asserted one evangelical, it remains as “unchristian as ever.”
Unification seminarians (several said they don’t mind being called Moonies) have been inviting evangelicals to so-called dialogues for more than a year. The first was held at the Barrytown, New York, campus last summer (August 18, 1978, issue, p. 40), followed by another in October. Conferences have been conducted subsequently with British, Wesleyan-Arminian, and charismatic evangelicals.
But this conference was more “sensitive,” said Pat Zulkosky, student coordinator for evangelical conferences at the seminary, and negotiations for it lasted over an eight-month period.
James Bjornstad, professor at Northeastern Bible College and author of The Moon Is Not the Son, served as spokesman ...1
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