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Sacral Authority and Public Spirituality: Inculturation and the Crisis of Korean Protestant Christianity

Hak Joon Lee, Fuller Theological Seminary/Im Colloquium of Korean Christianity

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
164 Royce Hall


This paper studies the sacral nature and characteristics of the Korean Protestant Church.   The Korean Protestant Church, regardless of its denominational variations, demonstrates unique characteristics that are distinctive from its Western counterparts, namely, a sacral nature that is exhibited in the numinous understanding of time (early dawn service, the Sabbath), space (sanctuary), and person (clergy).  The paper contends that this sacral nature is the consequence of the Korean Protestant Church’s longstanding assimilation into indigenous shamanism—its religious orientation, modality, and practices.   

This assimilation has gradually transformed what was once a vibrant prophetic form of Korean Protestantism in its early history into a religion that is mostly apolitical, sacral, and utilitarian in nature. The paper furthers that although the sacralization of Korean Protestant Christianity has contributed to its explosive growth by providing necessary pastoral care for lay Christians living in a highly transitional society, the Korean Protestant Church now faces a profound challenge as Korean society has become more open-minded, progressive, and democratic. This new challenge calls for a critical revision of the ecclesiology and ministerial practices of Korean Protestant Christianity, which responds to the demand for ecclesiastical democracy, transparency, public engagement, and in particular, the construction of ecclesiology that balances pastoral and prophetic ministry in a new Korean social context.


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