Top Roman Catholic and Protestant theologians said yesterday that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church cannot be considered a Christian church.
Their conclusion stated in an 11-page report released by the National Council of Churches in New York City, was based on a theological study of Moon's book, "Divine Principle," which is the statement of doctrine for the Unification Church.
The study, produced by the interdenominational body's Faith and Order Commission, reaffirmed the constitutional right of the Unification Church to exist and warned against use of the report "for arbitrary or punitive purposes."
The study was undertaken more than a year ago "to clarify the claims to Christian identity made by the Unification Church," an introductory statement said.
The study committee, whose membership ranged from Roman Catholic to Southern Baptist and included the presidents of two scholarly theological societies, concluded that Unification doctrine deviates from the essentials of Christian beliefs in numerous ways, including:
In Unification thought, Moon's revelations supersede the authority of the Bible, which for Christians is supreme.
"Divine Principle" maintains that Jesus Christ failed in his mission as savior because he died on the cross, and must therefore be supplanted by "The Lord of the Second Advent," who is to have been born in Korea. Most Unification members believe this is moon.
The Unification Church believes, according to the study, that individuals and nations can be classified as "heavenly" or "satanic." Christians believe redemption is possible for everyone.
The church council document also faults Unification theory for "a recurrent emphasis in (Divine Principle) on the responsibility of the Jewish nation for the failure of the mission of Jesus" and for a "consistently and unrelievedly negative" attitude toward the Jewish people.
The theologians acknowledge the difficulty of setting forth orthodox Christian doctrine in any pure state because of widespread diversities within Christianity. "Nevertheless, we believe that the contemporary ecumenical convergence is making certain dimensions of Christian doctrine stand out in sharp detail as essential and indispensable to whatever may be called Christian faith," they add.
In the light of such agreement, the authors conclude, "the claims of the Unification Church to Christian identity cannot be recognized.
Unification Cchurch spokesman Dan Holdgreiwe said he could not comment on the study since [words illegible] haven't had the courtesy to send [words illegibles] copy" of the completed statement, [words illegible] omission he called. "hardly Christi [words illegibles]