Born AgainEvangelicalism in Korea

Born AgainEvangelicalism in Korea

Timothy S. Lee

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780824833756

Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press

Abstract

Known as Asia's “evangelical superpower,” South Korea today has some of the largest and most dynamic churches in the world and is second only to the United States in the number of missionaries it dispatches abroad. Understanding its evangelicalism is crucial to grasping the course of its modernization, the rise of nationalism and anticommunism, and the relationship between Christians and other religionists within the country. This book considers the introduction, development, and character of evangelicalism in Korea. It argues that the phenomenal rise of this particular species of Christianity can be attributed to several factors. As a religion of salvation, evangelicalism appealed powerfully to multitudes of Koreans, arriving at a time when the country was engulfed in unprecedented crises that discredited established social structures and traditional attitudes. Evangelicalism attracted and empowered Koreans by offering them a more compelling worldview and a more meaningful basis for association. Another factor is evangelicalisms positive connection to Korean nationalism and South Korean anticommunism. It shared in the aspirations and hardships of Koreans during the Japanese occupation and was legitimated again during and after the Korean conflict as South Koreans experienced the trauma of the war. Equally important was evangelicals' relentless proselytization efforts throughout the twentieth century. The book explores the beliefs and practices that have become the hallmarks of Korean evangelicalism. It concludes that Korean evangelicalism is distinguishable from other forms of evangelicalism by its intensely practical and devotional bent.