Inter-religious Clash and Dynamic Faith in Contemporary Korea
- Kim, Chongsuh
- Issue Date
- The Australian National University
- the Keynote Speech for the Australian National University Conference: Religious Innovation in East Asia. (Canberra), pp. 1-19
- The most outstanding characteristics of the religious situation in contemporary Korea can be said to be the following: First, the religious population is large and is currently increasing rapidly. Second, in a situation of a multi-religious coexistence no particular religion takes precedence over another, but Western religions are challenging and gradually overwhelming Eastern religions. In this paper I argue that these two features are closely related to each other. That is, compared with other countries, in Korea religions and religious faith are growing rapidly and with unusual enthusiasm, and this has emerged from the unprecedented inter-religious clash that developed between Eastern and Western religions.
In order to examine this clash hypothesis from a comparative perspective, I have analyzed new religious movements namely, Eastern Learning, Jeungsangyo and the Unification Church and the phenomenon of the Pentecostal Protestantism focusing on the Yoido Full Gospel Church. These can be said to be the dominant religions in Korean religious innovation of modern times. The conclusions of my examination are:
1. Inter-religious clash often produces competitive situations making existing belief systems and symbolism precarious and this, in turn, causes social instability. Such situations create a dynamic religious energy.
2. The more alien and larger the religions clash, the greater its resulting impact. In the case that existing religion are overwhelmed, the clash will have more transformative potential.
In this context, it might be said that Korea, hidden away as a country of "morning calm", has changed into a country of religious fervor from its clashes against Western religions since the beginning of the modern period.
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