Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Inquiry of Pentecostalism regarding Pneumatology: A Theological Suggestion of a Feminist Perspective

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Inquiry of Pentecostalism regarding Pneumatology: A Theological Suggestion of a Feminist Perspective

Article excerpt

One day, on the way to Ghana, I met an African man who was sitting beside me on the plane. After he realized I was Korean, he asked whether I knew his brother. At first I thought his brother was working and living in Korea; however, the person he had mentioned was the former pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church (YFGC), David Yonggi Cho (1936-). Whenever I went to other continents, I met people who knew about Korean Christianity, especially YFGC or Minjung theology. This means these two things represent relevant elements of Korean Christianity.

Korean Methodist theologian Dongsik Yoo categorizes the Korean Pentecostal movement into two streams: (1) (1) the first is Minjung theology, which is a paternal movement affected by Confucianism and is more elite-oriented; (2) the second is a maternal and healing-oriented movement (2) affected by shamanism, which is a more ordinary people's movement. He defines YFGC as the latter. Indeed, Minjung theology could be categorized as academic discourse, while the Pentecostal movement is widely practised among ordinary people.

Minjung theology, which is well-known world wide as a Korean theology and the Pentecostal movement through Prayer Mountain, developed due to industrialization. However, its recognition and acceptance within Korea is very different. (3) Minjung theology greatly contributes to demonstrating the Korean context to the world and internationalizing the term "Minjung." Besides this reputation and expectation, Minjung theology, which is related to ecumenism, is not as widely disseminated as the Pentecostal movement, which is related to evangelism within Korea. These two streams deal with Han (distinctive complex feelings of despair and anger) and Dan (cutting off). (4) Like liberation theology, which is not as popular as the Pentecostal movement in South America, this tendency seems similar in Korea. Due to the simplicity of prosperity theology, the Pentecostal movement and churches encourage and comfort marginalized people more efficiently than Minjung theology. Minjung theology remains an academic theory for the minority. The majority of Minjung followers want to reach material prosperity quickly instead of engaging in social economic analysis, a theoretical approach, reflection, and transformation.

Challenges of the Pentecostal Movement

First, the efforts of the Pentecostal movement by many people throughout modern Korean history should be appreciated. However, this article reflects on the major problems of Korean churches from a reformed feminist perspective: the patriarchal top-down hierarchy of personal cults, gender injustice, and the dualistic conflict of ideology. Firstly, the patriarchal system does not allow discussion because it is a top-down order instead of pursuing consensus. Because of Korean Confucian culture, there is a lack of discussion of one-sided patriarchal orders. This trend causes a qualitative problem, while the next point is more related to numerical and quantitative value.

Secondly, gender imbalance is a general problem concerning women's ordination and leadership. Women are the majority in congregations worldwide, no matter the denomination. However, they can neither deliver sermons nor make decisions about church governance. Women play the role of passive participants or perform diaconal work. Women's ordination is still not generally practised in relatively progressive churches, let alone in conservative churches. It is still very difficult for women entering this male-dominated space. Verbal harassment and sexual abuse by male clergy happen frequently. A lack of gender justice leads neglect of the issue of minority and otherness. The issue of sexual minorities in general is still taboo. Thus, there is no open discourse on these themes. The problem is hidden under the surface, though it has become crucial.

Thirdly, ideological conflict is everywhere in Korean society. However, it has significant meaning in the Christian community, which is affected by white and black dualism. …

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