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Friday, December 10, 2010

A Message For The Here-And-Now

Why does Christianity have more of an effect upon some cities and countries than others?

Only God knows the full answer, but I'll venture a few possibilities.

My first thought is this: Christianity seems to have a greater effect on some individuals than on others. Doesn't it?

Why is this the case?

I suspect it might have something to do with the willingness of a particular person to undergo changes initiated by the Holy Spirit, the pull of past experiences, Christian teachings that are embraced, relationships with others, and the way a person is "wired" from the womb.

In a similar way, I suspect that the culture, character and history of a particular city or country where Christianity is "planted" affects the way it expresses itself.

In Korea, for example, Christianity was "planted" in a culture with a long history of Confucian influence. Some aspects of Confucianism were abandoned by Korean Christians (such as ancestor veneration), but I have spoken with Christians in Korea who tell me certain continuing influences of Confucianism on Christianity are negative. Yet, according to Dr. Kirsteen Kim whose research I highlighted a couple of weeks ago, other aspects of Confucianism complement Christianity, and were "revitalized" by early Korean Christians.

Confucianism, for example, has a high regard for education and scholarship. This may help explain the rise of Christian schools in Korea. "Within 25 years of their inception [in 1885]," writes Dr. Joseph Kim, a leader in today's Korean Christian school movement, "the Christian schools became the engine of social change and transformation. It is interesting to note that the Christian schools in Korea were flourishing nearly 50 years before such a movement even began in the United States." By 1910, there were 800 Christian schools serving 41,000 Korean students!

"In an environment antagonistic to Christianity [in the nineteenth century]," writes Joseph Kim, "it was the Christian schools that took the gospel to scores of young people and trained them with a biblical worldview. These schools provided the Korean church and the nation with well-trained Christian leaders." [Read Dr. Kim's full article at http://acsi.org/Resources/PublicationsNewsletters/ChristianSchoolEducation/tabid/681/itemId/3221/Default.aspx]

Another factor behind Christianity's influence on Korean modernization is that early Korean Christians saw Christianity as a message for the here-and-now, not just for the life-thereafter.

I'll pick up from here next week.

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