Tuesday, 5 May 2009

More on Korea

Since I visited Korea a few weeks ago, I have paid more attention to references to the Korean church. I was reading the other day about Paget Wilkes, a missionary to Japan, who visited Korea in 1910. His description of the Korean Church was very interesting to me, a Scottish Presbyterian. After saying that the Protestant church had gone from zero to 200,000 in twenty-four years, he gave five details of the Korean Church that impressed him. This is what he wrote:
  1. The love for, and earnest perusal of the Scriptures everywhere, and among all classes -- men, women, children. The Bible is undoubtedly the book of Korea.
  2. Their wonderful observance of the Lord's Day. All Christians close their shops, and abstain from every kind of work--like Scotland in the old days.
  3. The remarkable way in which the Koreans give to God's work. Almost all the churches are built with Korean money, and the pastors and workers are similarly supported. This is especially true of the Presbyterian church.
  4. The personal service and desire to spread the Gospel among the people. Many of the leaders, who in the early days were taken up with Evangelistic work, are now called upon to teach, and instruct, and train workers.
  5. The expectation and hope (especially in the Presbyterian Church) of the coming of the Lord. The majority of the missionaries also in the country teach it plainly to the people.

Wilkes also pointed out the harmony and love that existed in the church in Korea even although there was a variety of doctrinal views and national backgrounds. In addition, at that time, the destructive and devastating effects of higher criticism had not yet appeared in the church in Korea.

My first response to Wilkes' description was a sense of amazement. But a couple of seconds later I realised that his description was of normal, biblical church life. I'm still amazed and still looking for biblical normality.

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