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Christian Transformations: A Variety of Processes

Session Chair: N.N. | Tuesday, 9-11 a.m. | Venue

Claudio Ferlan

The religious revelation of Wovoka between syncretism and cultural adaptation (1889-1890)

Single events, ideas, individuals do not determine per se big religious changes in history. Yet, we can say that individuals can assume a role of catalyst. In the history of Christian missions in the New World in the modern era, what is the role of individual conscience in the construction of the religious identity? The dynamics of evangelization implies individual conscience, both for the missionary and for the indigenous. Only two possibilities exits for the former: conversion or refusal. History shows us that the most frequent response is syncretism or patchwork religiosity. The question for the missionaries is: how much of cultural adaptation and accommodation is permissible without falling into an illegitimate syncretism? This paper aims to answer this question through the analysis of the religious aspects involved in the Ghost Dance as it has been developed after Piute Messiah Wovoka preaching (1889-1890), and as Christians have interpreted it.

Myung-Sahm Suh

Generational Rift Among Socially Concerned Evangelicals in Contemporary South Korea

This paper examines the contested legacy of the First Lausanne Congress in both global and South Korean Evangelical communities. In response to theological and practical innovations in the Catholic and Ecumenical Churches from the 1960s onward, thousands of Evangelical leaders from more than 150 countries gathered at Lausanne, Switzerland in 1974 to discuss the proper relationship between evangelism and social action. The meeting culminated with the production of the Lausanne Covenant, which delineated the scope and methods of mission practices from Evangelical perspective. Nevertheless, the absence of a practical guideline in, as well as built-in ambiguity of, the Covenant has left a door open for evangelical social activism of all sorts, whether it is of the Christian Right or the Evangelical Left, for decades to come. Taking a cue from such diverse ramifications of the Congress at the global level, this case study explores the ways in which the idea of Evangelical social action has been differently interpreted and implemented by two distinct generations of Evangelical social activists in contemporary South Korea in relation to their respective socio-historical experiences of the Korean War and the ’80s Democratization Movement.

Shin Ahn

When Repentance is Impossible: A Study on Three Branches of Guwonpa, ‘Salvation Sect’ in Korea

On April 16, 2014, the Korean ferry Sewol [semo world or Moses world] was sunken in southwestern sea of Korea. 304 victims died and they were mainly secondary students traveling from the Incheon port to the Jeju Island. Prosecutors investigated the causes of this horrendous accident, and the owner of this ferry was disclosed in public: Yu Byeong-eon(1941-2014). He was the religious leader of Guwonpa, ‘Salvation sect.’ He was born in Kyoto, Japan in 1941, and moved to Daegu in Korea after liberation from Japanese colonialism. He attended at the Seongkwang [sacred light] School, a Christian mission school and studied the Bible at the missionary school named ‘Shield of Faith Mission’ with American missionary Dick York(USA) and Dutch missionary Kays Glass(WEC). In 1962, his father-in-law Kweon Cheol-sin(1923-1996) and Yu founded Evangelical Baptist Church of Korea(EBCK), so-called Guwonpa [salvation sect], which conservative Korean Christians identified as a heresy because they taught their believers the new doctrine of exact forgiveness of sin that righteous believers don’t need any more repentance and forgiveness after being saved. There are three major branches of Guwonpa: (1) Kwon Cheol-sin’s EBCK(former Korean Evangelical Layman’s Church), (2) Park Ok-su’s Good New Mission(since 1976), and (3) Lee John’s Good Word Mission (since 1982). This paper deals with their missionary activities and characteristics as religious phenomena.

Sophie Bønding

Methodological Reflections on the Study of Continuity in Relation to the Christianisation of the North: A Discursive Approach

I propose the notion of discourse as a central methodological concept when attempting to identify religious continuity in relation to the Christianisation of the North. The notion of discourse has recently been applied in the reconstruction of pre-Christian Scandinavian worldviews by Jens Peter Schjødt, understanding a discourse as constituting the sum of meaningful expressions that can be produced within it. In line with this approach, I explicate the theoretical foundation, pointing to the production of meaning inevitably taking place within and therefore being constrained by the discourse(s) that one is embedded in. Hence, the introduction of Christian ideas to the North must necessarily be constrained by the existing pre-Christian discourse(s), i.e. the existing semantic framework(s). I conclude with a case study, showing that the conceptualisation of Christ in kennings of early Christian skaldic poetry indicates continuity in relation to the discursive representation of gods as non-transcendental beings in pre-Christian Scandinavia.


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