Studies In The Theology Of The Korean Presbyterian Church An Historical Outline Part I -- By: Harvie M. Conn

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 29:1 (Nov 1966)
Article: Studies In The Theology Of The Korean Presbyterian Church An Historical Outline Part I
Author: Harvie M. Conn


Studies In The Theology Of The Korean Presbyterian Church
An Historical Outline
Part I

Harvie M. Conn

This study is an historical and interpretative account of the progress of theology in Korean Presbyterianism. It concentrates on the streams of conservative and liberal thinking in the Korean history of dogma.

For many reasons such a study is needed. For many of the same reasons, this particular study may be inadequate. With one very notable exception, the subject of this paper has hardly received any attention in either Korean or English-language research.1 In fact, in recent years, apart from summary accounts, Korean church history in itself has not had the attention it deserves.2 The result of this shortage of contem-

porary studies in depth is an almost complete lack of information in English concerning Korean theological trends, and a considerable lack even in Korean materials.3 The purpose of this essay is to provide at least a brief introductory outline to the major themes of the controversy in the hope that the challenge will be picked up by those willing to pursue the study further.

I. Conservative Theology In The Korean Church To 1938

The history of the Korean church in its early years is the history of conservative, evangelical Christianity.4 That history must be credited to the missionaries of the Presbyterian faith who brought it. AS with any church, younger or older, convictions are molded by those who plant the seed. The missionaries who led the Presbyterian Church in its early, formative years were men of sound convictions, and they did not hesitate to ground the church in those convictions.

A. J. Brown, one of the General Secretaries of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., comments on the missionary before 1911 in these terms: “The typical missionary of the first quarter century after the opening of the country was a man of the Puritan type. He kept the Sabbath as our New England forefathers did a century ago. He looked upon dancing, smoking and card-playing as sins in which no true follower of Christ should indulge. In theology and Biblical criticism he was strongly conservative, and he held as a vital truth the premillenarian view of the second coming of Christ. The higher criticism and liberal theology were deemed dangerous heresies. In most of the evangelical churches of America and Great Britain, conservatives and liberals ...

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