Workshop 6C countries

Prof. Dr. Yong Joon Choi – The Christian Worldview and the Transformation of Korean Society

By the grace of God, Korean churches have experienced enormous revival and growth over the last 100 years. At present, Korean churches are sending more missionaries throughout the world than any other country except the U.S.A., and some mega churches in the world are in Seoul. Therefore, from the perspective of church history, the Korean church will be remembered as one of the most successful and exemplary cases.

At the same time, Korean churches have made a decisive contribution to the development of modern Korean society. Even though they were not so many, Korean Christians were involved very actively in the independence movement during the period of Japanese occupation. They have produced leaders by establishing many schools. Public health was also promoted through various hospitals. Social welfare services, such as orphanages, have been provided through Christian ministries. Furthermore, Korean society in general has benefitted from the influence of the Korean Church in reducing smoking, drinking, gambling, social discrimination, gender inequality; and in promoting a thrifty life style, honesty, integrity, diligence; and in the idea of vocation as a calling from God. All these elements became the foundation of modern Korea in the 20th century. The foundation of this cultural transformation is the Christian worldview.

After 100 years, however, Korean churches are now facing a new transition period. Due to the powerful challenge of secularization, they are no longer increasing in numbers but rather are decreasing. Furthermore, the credibility of the Korean church is falling dramatically because of various scandals. Even though Christians number more than 20% of the whole population, not many of them are living as salt and light in the society. The Christian worldview has been emphasized by Korean churches, but it has not been consistently applied to every sphere of Korean society, such as science, politics and economy. This situation requires us to reflect more deeply and critically on the past of Korean church history and to provide a new alternative for the future.

Nevertheless, we are witnessing God is still working in a very dynamic way in China and many other parts of the world. We also see that many Korean diaspora Christians are playing a very important role in this global era. For instance, we have seen that a second generation Korean-American, Dr. Michael Oh, has become the new Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, succeeding Dr. Doug Birdsall, on March 1, 2013.

With this situation in mind, this article first deals with how the Christian worldview has transformed Korean society for the last 100 years. After that, we will discuss what kind of new paradigm it should provide for the rest of this century in order to make a significant contribution not only to Korean society but also to global one. After that, I will try to make a final conclusion.

Key bibliographic sources

Goudzwaard, B., Vander Vennen, Mark., Van Heemst, David. (2007). Hope in Troubled Times: A New Vision

for Confronting Global Crises Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.

Hahne, P. (2009). Schluss mit lustig!: Das Ende der Spaßgesellschaft Lahr: Johannis Verlag.

Kuyper, A. (1983). Lectures on Calvinism, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Stott, J. (1990). Issues Facing Christians Today London: Marshall Pickering.

Wolters, A. (2005). Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview, Grand Rapids:   Eerdmans.

Dr. Benyamin Intan – Religious Violence, ‘Public Religion’, and the Pancasila-based State of Indonesia

Religious violence in Indonesia has originated mainly in factors that are external to religion, particularly the strive for political power that often takes the form of the subordination of religion under the state for the sake of the state’s politics, or the subordination of the state under religion for the sake of religion’s agenda. Within the Pancasila-based state religions are enabled to live together in peace and harmony as well as to create opportunities in which each religion can play an active role in the public sphere. This principle allows all religions and beliefs to function in public life. However, it has to begin with the reality of religious diversity, which directs the practice of religions within the confinement of civil society. ‘Pubic religion’ on the level of civil society could become a transforming and liberating power that is necessary for establishing a democratic socio-political life.


Casanova, José. Public Religions in the Modern World. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

Habermas, Jürgen, An Awareness of What is Missing: Faith and Reason in a Post-Secular Age. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2010.

Hollenbach, David. The Common Good and Christian Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Juergensmeyer, Mark. The New Cold War? Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1994.

Kuyper, Abraham. Lectures on Calvinism. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1931; reprint, September 1987.

Danica Igrutinović & Dr. Mariecke van den Berg – Negotiating the New Serbia: State, Church and Blasphemy

Starting from the end of the 20th century, Serbia has known developments of retraditionalization,  desecularization and in general a revival of religion as people increasingly associate themselves with the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC). The SOC, moreover, is increasingly laying claim to the public space and public debate. The revival of religion in Serbia is often connected to various forms of nationalism, especially those that emphasize traditional family values, masculinity, and heteronormativity. Whereas homosexuality was socially a relatively accepted (though juridically prohibited) phenomenon in socialist Yugoslavia, for instance, the rights and visibility of sexual minorities are now being openly challenged by church officials. In this paper, we would like to explore some recent cases of blasphemy in Serbia, where these reshuffled power relations are being challenged. As moments of ‘impure mixing’ (Plate 2006), cases of blasphemy show how in public discourse the lines between the accepted and the rejected, the sacred and the profane are being (re)drawn. Moreover, located on the crossroads of religion, the secular and the modern, blasphemy cases are instances where both proponents and opponents of a certain work of art, cartoon, or pop song determine what “real” religion is, and in that sense blasphemy cases read like moments of identity politics (Korte 2015). The starting point of our analysis will be the exhibition Ecce Homo by Swedish photographer Elisabeth Ohslon Wallin. In this exhibition, Ohlson depicts twelve moments from the life of Jesus Christ, mixing the imagery and symbolism of church art and queer culture while positioning Jesus in present day Sweden. The exhibition was first held in Stockholm in 1998, and would be held in Serbia during the Pride Week of 2012, as the first and only Eastern European country to have the photographs on display. The exhibition was contested by several right wing groups, most notably so Dveri, which has strong ties to the SOC and is now an official political party. The exhibition was guarded by 2000 police officers (though only 40 peaceful protesters showed up). It was supposed to be on display for a week, but due to “safety risks” it was allowed to be shown for only two hours, and only to visitors with invitations.

We will contextualize responses to Ecce Homo, first by looking at Serbian responses to large blasphemy cases like the Pussy Riot affair in Russia and the Muhammad cartoons in Denmark. Second, we will compare responses to Ecce Homo to other instances of blasphemy in Serbia itself. Our aim is to explore how blasphemy cases illuminate the role of Christianity, in particular Orthodoxy, in the transformation of Serbia from a post-socialist to a post-secular state, a process in which the ‘two Serbias’ (traditionalist, associated with Orthodoxy and liberal, cosmopolitan, secular) compete for the future of Serbian society.