Date of Award

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Religion, Theological Studies PhD

First Advisor

Denis Fortin

Second Advisor

Miroslav M. Kis

Third Advisor

P. Richard Choi

Abstract

The intent of this study is to investigate the relationship between salvation and social justice in minjung theology. Minjung theology grew out of social awareness in the 1970s that created adesire to fight oppression and misery in Korea.

The introductory chapter defines the problem, which is to critically evaluate minjung theology's attempts to reconstruct the traditional Korean Christian notions of salvation. This study is primarily limited to the works of two representative minjung theologians: Nam Dong Suh and Byung Mu Ahn.

Chapter 2 traces the historical context of Korea from which minjung theology emerged. The chapter particularly notes the religious traditions and the socio-political milieu of Korea that shaped the theology. Deriving from the theologians' socio-political experiences and their Christian faith in the 1970s, minjung theology is a reflection of the past minjung movements in Korean history.

Chapter 3 investigates the three foundations of minjung theology: the minjung's perspective on life, the han of the minjung, and the hermeneutics of liberation praxis. These ideas have made minjung theology attractive in a world where the evils of oppression, exploitation, injustice, and alienation are widespread.

Chapter 4 critiques minjung theology's hermeneutics and soteriology from the Christian evangelical perspective. In its particular hermeneutical approach, Scripture plays a secondary role in minjung theology. In their reaction against too exclusive an emphasis on the otherworldly in traditional theology, minjung theologians radically reformulate the Christian doctrine of salvation from the perspective of the minjung. They equate salvation with the struggle for socio-political liberation of the minjung.

Minjung theology, however, fails to recognize that the source of social evils lies in the human heart and, thus, to grasp the "wholeness" of salvation. Salvation in the biblical witness is all-embracing and comprehensive--individual and social, eschatological and historical, and spiritual and temporal. The exclusive, one-sided emphasis minjung theology places on this world is a clear departure from the biblical understanding of salvation. In fact, the theology falls into the same trap as traditional theology in its one-sided understanding of sin and salvation. Such unbalanced views of sin and salvation in both minjung and traditional theology need to be brought in line with the understanding of sin and salvation in Scripture.

The final chapter concludes by affirming the validity of minjung theology's concern for the plight of the minjung and by reiterating Korean theology's urgent need to develop a wholistic biblical soteriology capable of integrating personal salvation and Christian social responsibility into harmonious belief and praxis.

Subject Area

Minjung theology, Salvation, Social justice--Religious aspects, Sociology, Biblical, Religion and sociology

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