Words Matter: Linguistic, Historical and Theological Issues with the Term “Begotten”
- UTS Communications
The Journal of Unification Studies is a forum for committed engagement with Unification theology and practice, published annually by the Unification Theological Seminary.
Its articles address concerns of the theological community and the professional ministry, as well as contemporary social, cultural, political, scientific and economic issues, from a Unificationist perspective.
In addition, the Journal promotes dialogue and understanding by presenting papers from diverse viewpoints that engage Unification theology and practice.
In his article, Words Matter: Linguistic, Historical and Theological Issues with the Term “Begotten”, published in the Journal of Unification Studies, 2017, Rev. Franco Famularo explains how the word “begotten” is problematic for Unification teaching both within the Unification family and in efforts of Unificationists to reach out beyond Unification circles—especially to adherents of the Religions of the Book, namely, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Journal of Unification Studies Vol. 18, 2017 - Pages 121-138
The word “begotten” is problematic for Unification teaching both within the Unification family and in efforts of Unificationists to reach out beyond Unification circles—especially to adherents of the Religions of the Book, namely, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Use of the word begotten is as challenging for Unificationists as it was for Christians in the 1950s, when translators of more recent English versions of the Bible removed the word begotten from some key verses.
The Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek, and the founders of Unificationism speak Korean. Understanding Biblical language and how certain concepts are expressed in English and Korean is important in the ongoing quest for truth. This article seeks to clarify the linguistic challenges and theological misunderstandings. Its thesis is that what the founders of Unificationism seek to convey in their formal speeches and informal talks and posts by use of the English word “begotten” is mistaken, and will hinder efforts to effectively communicate the teachings of Unificationism. Although there are controversies in some circles about what has been referred to as “only begotten theology,” this paper does not respond to specific theological issues but seeks to clarify why the word “begotten” is not helpful for any constructive discussion about Unification teachings.
Franco Famularo (class of 1994) is the author of “A History of the Unification Church in Canada 1965-1991.” He currently serves as National Leader of the Canadian branch of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. Until September 2017 he served as Secretary-General of the Universal Peace Federation, Canada. He is also Chair of the Board of Trustees of Unification Theological Seminary.