Conclusion

I have examined the five strands of Korean theology in relation to their socio-historical backgrounds and their theological discourse as each has made a distinctive contribution to the life of the churches and society in Korea in response to the problems of poverty, injustice and division. The choice of theologians discussed here is by no means comprehensive but selective, in order to demonstrate the emerging forms and themes of theology in the Korean context. 'Bible Christianity' and 'revival Christianity' represent the dynamics of the occasional sakyunghoe (Bible examining meetings) and buhoenghoe (revival meetings), and the weekly home group meetings, which include Bible study, sharing of testimony and prayers. These are key aspects of faith for most Christians, and often

35 See: C. S. Song, Third-Eye Theology: Theology in Formation in Asian Settings (London:

Lutterworth Press, 1980), pp. 146-7.

result in the revival of their faith and the deepening of their commitment. The collective interpretation of scripture and the earnest prayer-support of fellow believers made a significant contribution to the growth of the church, as well as becoming a positive characteristic of the Korean churches.36 'Bible Christianity' and 'revival Christianity' have been instrumental in the growth and strength of the Korean Protestant churches, and these aspects of Christian life are common to all denominations. The latter three theological approaches — 'folk Christianity', 'liberation Christianity' and 'reconciling Christianity' - have made significant impacts on Korean politics and society. However, the churches particularly associated with each approach are not in the mainstream of Korean Christianity. On the surface, the majority of Protestant Christians are not associated with the three approaches we have discussed, but in reality the life and practice of ordinary Christians is significantly influenced by these three movements.

Both 'revival Christianity' (the gospel of holistic blessing) and 'liberation Christianity' (minjung theology) can be described as two major contextual theologies intended to address the problems of poverty and injustice in the second half of twentieth-century South Korea. The former integrates traditional religiosity and Christian teaching on blessing to address the problem of poverty, and the latter employs socio-political tools developed in the west and articulated in Latin America to meet the question of injustice. The gospel of holistic blessing focuses on the individual poor and helps people in the context of post-War Korea to hope for material blessings by committing themselves to God, who is understood as being ready to bless his people. Minjung theology was formulated in the 1970s as a protest theology against both conservative evangelical theologies and kibock sinang, on the one hand, and against the unjust system of modern and divided Korea, on the other. These two approaches are products of the search for an answer to a particular problem in a particular time and context, therefore they both have their limits. Nevertheless, they are the outcomes of sincere quests by Koreans to solve what are perhaps the most difficult issues for the Christian church: poverty and injustice.

Philip Jenkins asserts that the churches in the South are 'not just a transplanted version of the familiar religion of the older Christian states: the new Christendom is no mirror image of the Old. It is a truly new and

Jong Chun Park, Crawl with God, Dance in the Spirit! A Creative Formation of Korean Theology of the Spirit (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1998), pp. 18—23.

developing entity.'37 Though his usage of the term 'the next Christendom' is problematic, Jenkins is right in that theologies from the South have distinctive characteristics. Korean Christian theology emerges from her turbulent history as the 'queen of suffering'.38 Choo Chai-Yong suggests that the future direction of Korean theology should aim to be ecumenical by engaging with churches and other Christian organizations and dialoguing with other religions and non-religious groups, which are so divided.39 Ryu Dong-Shik envisages Korean theology overcoming another divide: that between personal or socio-political salvation, by moving in the direction of a unifying religio-cosmic theology.40 With the changing situation of economic growth (as the world's eleventh economy) and the establishment of democracy, although the problems of poverty and injustice still remain, some of the distinctive theologies of the second half of the twentieth century have less relevance in contemporary South Korean society. There are emerging challenges concerning the integrity of the church: a lack of authentic spirituality in church leadership and a lack of social and personal ethics. The ecological crisis and globalization also feature highly in contemporary concerns. However, the issue of peace and reconciliation in the Korean peninsula is still the most urgent matter for the Korean churches. Also, articulating a relevant theological discourse which can be accepted by both liberal and conservative sections is an imperative. Korean theology, while embracing these aspects, needs to continue to challenge the church and society, while also being open to scrutiny from the church and the general public, if it is to make an authentic and yet relevant contribution to the lives of the Korean people.

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