2018-2019 Grant in Aid of Research

Impact of a Post-Confucian Hierarchical Worldview on Korean Society: Implications for Adventist Mission

HaeSub Chung

The interaction of Christianity and Confucian concepts of hierarchy—a core value of Confucianism—has persistently and powerfully shaped Korean Christianity. Confucian hierarchy and its influence on Christianity have been popular subjects throughout the years. However, those studies have not looked at this complex worldview structure when it encounters Western civilizations and ideologies such as industrialization, capitalism, and democracy. The studies also failed to see from the Post-Confucian hierarchical perspective which exposes social dynamics and tensions in the relation of postmodern characteristics and globalization based on informational communicational technology (ICT). Consequently, the unbalanced studies might lead to a perceived cultural vacuum by its negative influence, and there is a risk of an obstacle for the critical contextualization by breaking with traditions.

There is, therefore, a need to study the interrelationships between the complex and conflicting ideologically blended worldview which influences in contemporary Post-Confucian hierarchical Korean society. I argue that the mixed hierarchical order which Christianity has achieved was neither purely Christian spirit nor the ideal Confucian hierarchical model. In fact, because of the hierarchical abuses by church leadership and syncretistic mammonism with hierarchical order among church members, the Korean people’s antipathy toward Christianity has grown, provoking antagonism against Christian youth. Ironically, a demand of contemporary Post-Confucian hierarchical Korean society is not fragmentation from tradition, rather, showing that Koreans are still seeking the ideal Confucian hierarchical model based on changed circumstances.The various components of the Post-Confucian culture, as diverse and complex as they are, must be evaluated from a biblical perspective to construct an informed missiological approach for Christian endeavors in Korea. In order for the Christian mission to more appropriately understand the relationship between biblical and Confucian models of hierarchy it is imperative that Christians engage in critical contextualization.