The preparation period for the Second Advent of the Messiah is the 400-year period from the Religious Reformation of 1517 to the end of World War I in 1918. The summary of the character of this period was already discussed in the section comparing it with the preparation period for the coming of the Messiah viewed from time-identity, but a more detailed study will be made here. Seen from the viewpoint of the providence of restoration, this era is divided into three periods: the period of religious reformation, the period of struggle between religion and ideology, and the period of maturity for politics, economy, and ideology.
The 130-year period, from the time when Luther held the banner of religious reformation in Germany in 1517 to when the fight between the two religious sects of old and new was ended by the treaty of Westphalia in 1648 in called the “period of Religious Reformation”. The character of this period was formed by the Renaissance and the Religious Reformation as the products of medieval feudal society. When the purpose of God’s providence which He intended to fulfill through the medieval society became a failure, the Renaissance and Religious Reformation carried out the leading mission of establishing the foundation to receive the Messiah of the Second Advent, by turning it in the new direction of the providential history. Consequently, we cannot grasp the character of this period without knowing this.
If the Renaissance and Religious Reformation are the products of medieval feudal society, what kind of influence did medieval society exert upon the original nature of the medieval people, bringing about these two new developments?
Because of the social environment of the feudal system and the secular degradation of Roman Catholicism in the medieval ages, the original nature of man was restrained and its free development was restricted. Faith, the way each must go in search of God, can only be realized by a vertical relationship directly between the individual and God. The intervention of the pope and priests together with formal religious ceremonies and laws fettered the religious freedom of that age, while the strict system of the feudalistic classes restrained man’s independent religious activities. Besides, through buying and selling of the priesthood and the exploitation of the people by the priests, the priests’ lives inclined to be luxurious and hedonistic. In consequence, the papal authority came to stand in a position of no credibility whatsoever in the same manner as the authorities of the general society, and it was unable to lead the life in faith of the people.
Thus, the social environment of the medieval feudalistic age blocked man’s way toward restoring his original nature endowed at the creation. Therefore, medieval men, who were under the bondage of such an environment, moved spontaneously in the direction of restoring man’s original nature by breaking down the environment. The original nature of man presented itself with the character and tendency of both the internal aspect and external aspect. Let us now study where its ground is in the principle of creation.
According to the principle of creation, man, being God’s substantial object in the image of His dual essentialities, resembles His essential character and form. This character and form have internal and external relationships. Man is created to live by the give and take action between this internal character and external form. Therefore, man’s original nature was created also in pursuit of two desires, one of internal aspect and the other of external aspect. In working His providence of restoration with such men, God is compelled to work in correlation with the two pursuits of man’s original nature.
God, who originally created man’s body (external) first and then his spirit (internal) next (Gen. 2:7), works His providence of restoration for the re-creation of man by restoring first what is external and next what is internal. As was already discussed (cf. Part II, Ch. 1–239), fallen man had to first offer an external symbolic sacrifice before he could offer an internal substantial sacrifice. Only by succeeding in making the internal substantial sacrifice could the more internal foundation to receive the Messiah be realized. Accordingly, in restoring fallen man, God first let man restore his position as a “slave of slaves” (Gen. 9:25), through the offerings in the pre-Old Testament Age. Then, in the Old Testament Age, He let man restore his position as a servant (Lev. 25:55), through the law. In the New Testament Age, He let man restore his position as an adopted son (Rom. 8:23), through faith. In the Completed Testament Age, He is guiding man to restore his position as a true son, through heart-and-zeal, always progressing from that which is external to that which is internal (cf. Part II, Ch. 2, Sec. III, 2–347).
For the same reason, God let man first restore the external social environment through science while working His providence to restore the internal spirit of man through religion. Observing the order of the creation of the archangel and man, we find that God first created the archangel, who is external, and then created man, who is internal. Accordingly, in restoring the angel and fallen man, God has been working His providence by first restoring the external substantial world, centering on man’s physical body, through the cooperative works of the angelic world, which is external, and then by restoring the internal invisible world centering on man’s spirit.
Medieval men were to separate from Satan, who invaded them due to the degradation of the popes, whose internal mission had been to restore the foundation of faith, and who were thus to restore their original nature endowed at the creation. They divided the leading spirit of medieval men into the two movements to restore the two ideologies, one of Cain-type and the other Abel-type, according to the internal and external pursuits of their original nature. First came the movement to restore Hellenism, which was the Cain-type, and next came the movement to restore Hebraism, which was Abel-type. The movement to restore Hellenism caused the Renaissance, which was an expression of humanism, while the movement to restore Hebraism aroused the Religious Reformation for the revival of theism. Let us, therefore, study how the streams of Hellenism and Hebraism have historically interchanged, finally reaching the present age.
About 2000 B.C. the Minoan civilization was formed, centering on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea. this civilization, spreading into Greece, formed the Hellenistic cultural sphere of the Cain-type in the 11th century B.C., of which the leading spirit was Hellenism, centering on humanism. About the same time in Western Asia, the Hebraic cultural sphere of the Abel-type was formed, of which the leading spirit was Hebraism, centering on theism. This was the period of the United Kingdom.
If the Israelite kings of that age had set up the foundation to receive the Messiah, thus receiving the Messiah at that time, the Hebraic cultural sphere could have absorbed the Hellenic cultural sphere, thus forming one worldwide cultural sphere. However, the kings failed to unite with the will of God, leaving it unfulfilled. Thus, the period from the time of their subjection to Greece in 333 B.C. after their having returned from their captivity in Babylon until Jesus’ coming at the time of their subjection to Rome, which belonged to the Hellenic cultural sphere, was the period during which Hebraism was placed in the situation of being controlled by Hellenism.
As already discussed in the previous chapter, if the Jewish people had become one centering on Jesus by believing in him, the Roman Empire of that time could have become the messianic kingdom centering on Jesus. If so, Hebraism could have absorbed Hellenism, thus forming a worldwide Hebraic cultural sphere at that time. Nevertheless, this will was not fulfilled because of the Jewish people’s betrayal of Jesus, and Hebraism remained under the control of Hellenism. After Constantine the Great had officially recognized Christianity in the Milan Decree in 313 A.D., Hebraism began gradually to overcome Hellenism, finally forming the two great cultural spheres of Greek Orthodoxy and of Western European Christianity in the 700’s A.D.
If in medieval society the popes and the kings, who were the central figures to restore the foundation of faith, had not been become corrupted, the foundation for the Messiah of the Second Advent could have been established at that time, and Hebraism could have completely absorbed Hellenism, forming one cultural sphere for the whole world. However, as discussed above, their degradation caused a Satanic invasion of the leading spirit of medieval men, centering on Hebraism. Hence, God had to work His providence of separating Satan. Therefore, God, just as He had divided Adam into Cain and Abel in order to separate Satan, who had invaded Adam, again worked His providence of separating the leading spirit of that time into two ideologies. These were the movements to restore Cain-type Hellenism and Abel-type Hebraism. These finally presented themselves in the form of the Renaissance and the Religious Reformation.
In this age, since the Renaissance occurred with humanism as its leading ideology, Hellenism was placed in a position of having control over Hebraism. Thus, this period becomes that in which to restore by indemnity, as the substantial time-identity, the period in which Hellenism held control over Hebraism due to the Jewish people’s subjection under Greece during the period of preparation for the coming of the Messiah. We know that by Cain’s surrendering in obedience to Abel and thus separating from Satan, who had invaded Adam, the foundation of substance to receive the Messiah could be established. Only by the Cain-type Hellenism surrendering completely to the Abel-type ideology of Hebraism and thus separating from Satan, who had invaded the leading spirit of medieval men, could the foundation of substance to receive the Lord of the Second Advent have been accomplished at that time.
According to the external pursuit of man’s original nature by the men of medieval society, the movement to restore Hellenism was aroused. By this movement, the Renaissance was born. Let us them study what this external pursuit of man’s original nature was and how and why man came to pursue this course.
The principle of creation tells us that man was created to become perfect by carrying out by his free will his own portion of responsibility, in which process even God could not intervene. Therefore, it is man’s original nature to pursue freedom. It is from man’s original nature that he would pursue the independence of his personality because man was created to enjoy the absolute independence of his personality by carrying out his own portion of responsibility with his free will and thus by becoming one with God and perfecting his individuality.
Man was created as a man of perfected individuality to know God’s will through his intelligence and reason and to live in accordance with it, even though he might not receive any revelation from God. Therefore, it is man’s original nature to follow and develop his intelligence and reason. Man is also created to dominate the natural world. Therefore, it is man’s original nature to follow and develop his intelligence and reason. Man is also created to dominate the natural world. Therefore, he must pioneer the environment of his everyday life by discovering, through science, the principles latent in nature. Accordingly, man’s original nature demands that he pursue nature, reality, and science.
Men of the medieval society whose original nature had been oppressed by the social environment of the feudal system, were more ardently in pursuit of the above-mentioned things due to the external desire of their original nature. Medieval people also came to study the classics of Hellenism, imported from the East. The old spirit of Hellas was an external pursuit of man’s original nature: the pursuit of human freedom, the independence of personality, the dignity of human intellect and reason, estimation of nature, emphasis on reality, and exaltation of science. Therefore it agreed with the desire of the people’s original nature; the movement to restore Hellenism occurred with great ardor, finally leading it to the emergence of humanism.
Renaissance, in French, means “rebirth” or revival. The Renaissance developed as early as the 14th century, in Italy, which was the Mecca of the classical research on Hellenism. This movement of humanism, which at first began as a movement to have medieval men return to ancient Greece in imitation of the Hellenic spirit, advanced to become a movement to reform medieval social life by reproducing this classic culture. Going beyond the culture, it expanded to become a movement of reform, covering all the problems of society, such as politics, economy, and religion. It also became the external driving force which formed the modern society. The Renaissance is a phenomenon which developed in the form of an external reformation movement covering the whole of the feudal society and centering on humanism, which was the current thought of the age directed toward fulfilling the external desire of man’s original nature.
The providence of restoration, centering on the popes of the medieval age, ended in failure due to the secular degradation of the popes and the priests. Medieval men, as they came to advocate humanism, resisted formal religious ceremonies and rules. They went against the feudal system of classes and the papal authority which repressed man’s autonomy. They also repulsed the obstinate life of faith of the age in which man’s reason and intellect were disregarded and everything was thought to be solved only by having it subjected to the pope. The people came to repel the seclusive, other-worldly, and ascetic attitude of faith which ignored nature, reality, and science. Thus, medieval Christians finally rebelled against the papacy.
In this way, as medieval men pursued the external desire of their original nature, they came to advocate the restoration of the early Christian spirit in which the people, centering on the apostles were very earnest in following God’s will. This was actually the movement of restoration of Hebraism in the medieval age. In the 14th century, John Wycliffe, a professor of theology at Oxford University in England, translated the Bible into English, insisting that the standard of faith be put not upon the popes and priests but upon the Bible itself. At the same time, he denounced the degradation of the priesthood, and their exploitation and abuse of power over the people, testifying to the fact that the system, ceremonies, and rules of the church had no scriptural grounds.
In this way, the movement of Religious Reformation quickly developed in England as early as the 14th century, after the papal dignity had fallen. The same movement occurred in Italy also but failed. Later, in 1517, Pope Leo X began to sell “Indulgences”, propagating that they were the token of redemption and salvation after death, in order to raise funds for the erection of St. Peter’s Basilica. The movement against its ill effect became the incentive for action and the Religious Reformation exploded, centering on Martin Luther, who was a professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. The fire of this revolutionary movement spread and developed actively in France, centering on Calvin, and in Switzerland, centering on Zwingli, gradually expanding into England, Holland and many other countries. The international conflict which burst out around the Protestant movement continued for more than 100 years until the fight between the old and new religious sects was once settled by the Thirty Years’ War. This war was waged, centering on Germany, and finally ended in 1648, with the Treaty of Westphalia. As a result, the struggle ended in Northern Europe with the victory of Protestantism, centering on the Germanic nation. Southern Europe remained as the territory of Roman Catholicism, centering on the Latin peoples.
The Thirty Years’ War broke out between the believers in Protestantism and Catholicism, centering on Germany. However, this war did not end up as a simple religious fight, but it was altogether a political civil war which decided the existence of the German Empire. Accordingly, the peace treaty of Westphalia which ended this war was a religious conference and also an international political conference which solved territorial problems among many countries like Germany, France, Spain and Sweden.
This is the period of the 140 years from the success of the Protestant movement by the treaty of Westphalia in 1648 until the French Revolution in 1789. Modern men, who came to pioneer the way in pursuit of the internal and external desires of their original human nature, could not avoid the division of doctrine and the fight among philosophies that came from the freedom of religion and ideology.
As was repeatedly discussed in Part II, the providence of restoration has been woven by the works of division into the Cain-type and Abel-type from the individual level to the worldwide level during the long period of history. Consequently, at the consummation of history, this world of corruption is to be divided into the communistic world of the Cain-type and democratic world of the Abel-type. Just as the foundation of substance could only have been realized by Cain’s obedience in surrender to Abel, at this time also the worldwide foundation of substance to receive the Lord of the Second Advent is to be realized only by the Cain-type world’s surrender to the Abel-type world. Thus, one world will be restored. In order for the two types of world to be realized, two types of the view of life must be established; in reality, these two types of the view of life were established during this period.
The external pursuit of the original human nature aroused the movemen