Studies in the Theology of the Korean Presbyterian Church— An Historical Outline: Part IV -- By: Harvie M. Conn

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 30:2 (May 1968)
Article: Studies in the Theology of the Korean Presbyterian Church— An Historical Outline: Part IV
Author: Harvie M. Conn

Studies in the Theology of the Korean Presbyterian Church—
An Historical Outline:
Part IV

Harvie M. Conn

IV. Conflict and Division—1945 to 1954

The early months immediately following liberation had made clear to many the tremendous complications that would be involved in any reform program within the church. Some, like the Chaikun (Reconstruction) movement leaders, felt the program so impossible that they had withdrawn from the Presbyterian fold almost immediately upon liberation. Others, like Lee Ki Sun and his sympathizers, had severed their connections, or had been put out of the church, in 1946 and following. Many, as Kim Yang Sun has indicated, simply felt that reform was unnecessary. Conservatives in Korea north of the 38th parallel, particularly in North Pyungan Province, had taken a stronger position against the Japanese-enforced compromises of the war years and may have been less in need of rehabilitation than those in other areas.1 In any case, these men quickly found themselves facing another dangerous foe to the church’s purity—Communism. Their attention, of necessity, was turned in another direction.

A. Program for Reform

It was in South Kyungsang Province that the first successful step for reform was executed. There, in the summer of 1946, at the instigation of Han Sang Dong and Choo Nam Sun, a theological institute was held. And, on September 20, 1946, “at the urgent request of the church”,2 it continued its services as Koryu Theological Seminary.

Conceived in the minds of its two Korean founders during their prison years,3 the school quickly became a ranging place for conservative thought in the church. Consciously aware of the liberalism of Chosun Seminary, the institution intended to carry on the old ideas of Pyungyang Seminary. Because of the stand of its founders, it quickly became associated with “the spirit of the martyrs” during the war. Most of the 53 students who enrolled during its first year

“had been imprisoned by the Japanese for their faith”.4 Their spirit was clearly reflected in this letter of matriculation read on the opening day of the seminary by a student:

“We did not come to this school to study at magnificent buildings, and we do not ask for splendid arrangements. We have come to this school to be inspired by you with the spirit of the martyrs who laid down their lives for the gospel of Christ, and we have co...

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