See the brief account in the Introduction to K. C. Abraham, Third World Theologies:
8 Commonalities and Divergences (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1990), pp. xv-xvi. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1991.
of the twentieth century. It was also related to the tangled situation following the Korean War and an increasingly ambiguous relationship with the USA as the main supplier of foreign missionaries. The Korean Churches had been divided as a result of the Japanese occupation, when ecumenism was discredited by association with the Kyodan - the United Church of Christ in Japan - which the Korean churches had been expected to join. Then the strong links between anti-communism and evangelicalism on the part of US missionaries in the 1950s and 1960s complicated the internal dynamics of the Korean churches.9 One reaction to this situation was the development of minjung theology, which began as a simple telling of the stories of those who were suffering under the South Korean dictatorship.10 It should be emphasized that this was not simply an imitation of what was happening elsewhere; it was rather an attempt to see how similar insights related to the rather different economic and political situation in Korea. This was also a theology with politically revolutionary implications.
The political relaxation in China made it possible to see what had been happening to the Chinese church while it was concealed from western eyes. The Church of Christ in China early in the twentieth century united most of the major Protestant churches on a federal model. Under communism in 1954 this was transformed into the Three-Self Patriotic Church (self-supporting, self-administering and self-propagating).11 The insistence that the Church should not acknowledge any authority outside the Chinese state presented problems for the Roman Catholic Church, but not to the Three-Self Movement. Indeed the three selves could be traced back to the early missionary thinking of Henry Venn of the Church Missionary Society and Rufus Anderson of the Overseas Board for Foreign Missions in the nineteenth century.
One overwhelming reality, which the Christian Gospel had to address, was war and the consequent suffering. Asia suffered even more from war than Europe in the twentieth century. Troops were recruited from
I have learned much about the Korean churches from my research student, K. S. Ahn, who is writing a dissertation on the development of the Presbyterian Church in Korea in the twentieth century.
A classic source for this is D. Kwang-sun Suh, The Korean Minjung in Christ, 2nd edn (Hong Kong: Commission on Theological Concerns, 2002).
P. L. Wickeri, Seeking the Common Ground: Protestant Christianity, the Three-Self Movement, and China's United Front (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1988); P. Freston, Evangelicals and Politics in Asia, Africa and Latin America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), pp. 101—5; R. L. Whitehead (ed.), No Longer Strangers: Selected Writings of K. H. Ting, Maryknoll (NY: Orbis Books, 1989) pp. 9—10.
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