Chapter I
Special Features Of The Korean Church

Authored by Rev. Chujoh Gisuke, Japan
Translated by Rev. Mike Furey, Georgetown, IN, USA

Revival Sermon

Chapter I Special Features Of The Korean Church

Chapter One From "The Reasons For The Prosperity Or Revival In The Korean Church:  How A Japanese Missionary Experienced It."

Authored By Gisuke Chujoh, A Japanese Evangelist of Chiba-ken, Narashino-shi, Saginuma-chome4, 8-ban, 9-go, "The Reasons For The Prosperity Or Revival In The Korean Church:  How A Japanese Missionary Experienced It." (Jordan Press:Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 7-26-24, November 11, 1989).

Translated by Michael Furey, pastor and amateur translator, Hanover, Indiana, USA February 4, 1999. 

All the transliterations of Korean personal and place names have been provided by Ms. Youn-Woo Jeong, Assistant Research Fellow Youn-Woo Jeong of the Japanese Document Center at Seoul National UniversityAssistant Research Fellow at the Japanese Document Center of the Graduate Institutefor International and Area Studies at Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea. Graduate Institute For International And Area StudiesHer email is

Chapter I Special Features Of The Korean Church

As far as this theme is concerned I think they have views that are considerably different in their faith-oriented perspective and theological ideals. But, I have determined in my own opinion that there are not that many points of difference in their way of thinking from other peoples and I suppose there are many common points on objective and general levels.

1. The Theological And Faith-Oriented Features Of The Korean Church

o Lee Jong-Seong, 1985, Lecture At The Thirty-Fifth Meeting At The Japanese Christian Church, The Theme: "The Current Significance Of The Korean Presbyterian Church Which Has Celebrated One Hundred Years Of Mission Work."

o Lee Jang-Shik, 1983, Lecture At The Theological Department Of Seinan Gakuin University, The Theme: "The Korean Church Inside And Out."

<1> Rather than philosophical speculative theology, [there was] experiential, "existential" theology.

Western theology and Japanese theology have truly been influenced by Greek philosophy and are philosophical and speculative. But, the theology of the Korean Church is different from mere empiricism and holds the position that theological content must be formed through direct and indirect experiences.

<2> Rather than a theoretical faith, [there was] a practical, active faith.

They have a faith based on the [following] words and a faith that adheres to [this] lifestyle, "O my brothers, though a certain person claims that he has faith, if he has not any actions, what good is it? ... In the same way faith by itself is dead unless accompanied by action," (James 2:14-17).

When the gospel was first preached in Korea they were confronted with an ethnic and national crisis and [their practical and action-oriented faith] was due to the fact there had been an historical and social reason for accepting the gospel (faith) of Christ in order to overcome their hard times and crisis (Ibid., Lee Jang-Shik).

As an example of that, the main focus of [one] message emphasized that the soul, the body, and works all three are to be taken together, make a person healthy, and give blessings, as it was preached in "The Blessing Of The Three Important Requisites" by Rev. Yonggi (Cho), pastor of the Yoido Full Gospel Church which holds the largest membership in the world (five hundred thousand). It seems this way of thinking or this view point represents the Korean Church.

<3> Rather than liberal theology, [there was] conservative theology.

The first minister in Korea was Doctor Allen who came to China as a medical missionary for the North American Presbyterian Church.

Harace G. Allen [sic; The name is actually Horace N. Allen; q.v. chapter 4] entered the country from Inchon [Jinsen] on September 20, 1884.

The next year, on April 5, 1885 (Easter), G. Underwood from the Department of North American Presbyterian Mission Work, and pastor Henry G. Appenzeller and his wife from the Methodist Church formally entered the country from Inchon and the first page of Protestant history in Korea had begun.

Since their theology had been greatly influenced by the revival movement going on in America at that time, inevitably their theology was conservative rather than liberal. This matched the soil of Korea and resulted in bearing good fruit.

After World War II, a number of radical theologies were introduced to Korea, but they did not suit the actual conditions in Korea (the political, economical, or military unrest), the main currents [in Korea] had through and through a conservative faith and a conservative theology.

Actually, the Christian books being printed in Korea were really conservative theological books and commentaries. In addition, the translated works from the West and Japan which were out of date and not highly regarded [among scholars] were printed and sold well.

<4> Rather than a pluralistic Christianity [there was] a pure Christianity.

Korea was not an agricultural people like Japan but a horseriding people. Based on their historical, natural, and social circumstances, rather than a pluralistic way of thought, they became puristic and exclusive.

For that reason, it can be said that the position of Korean Christians towards other religions was completely closed, opposed, and uncompromising.

They believed purely and simplistically just as the faith that Peter preached boldly (in Acts 4:12), "There is no salvation except for that which is based on this man, because a name which will save us, beside this one, has not been given to anyone else under heaven."

As in Japan and many other countries there is no tolerance, unity, or harmony in regard to other religions. Only the son of God Jesus is the messiah, the Christ (the savior). They believe that anything beside this was idolatry.

<5> Going Beyond An Ethnocentric Faith, A Faith That Intensely Promotes A Movement Towards Worldwide Evangelization

It has been one hundred years of history and the Korean Church which has not produced a theological sounding theology has received the message just as it is (of The Gospel Of Mark 16:15) from the Lord Jesus Christ, "Go out into the entire world and proclaim the gospel to every created being" and has tried to simply put into practice exactly what [Jesus] has said and uses the slogan "The Movement Towards World Evangelization," prays for this, and supports this. They believe since it is God's will, it is possible to achieve and can be realized.

The Bible verse for The One Hundredth Anniversary Commemoration Of Korean Mission Work held in 1984 was the first half of Isaiah 60:1, "Get up, let out the light." Based on this verse, the next theme for the church year in many Korea denominations and groups was "The Church Heading Into The World." The Korean Churches thus poured all their energy into "Let's get up and head into the world, let's head into the world and let out the light (the gospel)," (in 1985, it was the theme of The Seventieth Congress Of The Teachings Of The Jesus Presbyterian Church), and they believed the very world mission work itself had the power to support and propel the Korean church in its past, present, and future.

2. Its Practical And Active Features

o Sawa Masahiko, "To Learn From The Korean Church," in "Kirisuto Shinbun [Christ Newspaper]" February 18, 1984.

<1> The Pastors Stand At The Head With Strong Leadership.

As the Lord Jesus taught, "Truly, truly I say to you ... he (the shepherd = the pastor) leads at the head of the sheep," the pastor in the Korean Church stands at the head in everything and demonstrates his leadership. They actually say he is "almighty" indeed.

As a specific example, every morning, at the early morning prayer house meetings that took place (for one hour at 4 AM or about 4:30 AM) the pastors presided, preached, and lead the entire meeting. Of course, when a church becomes the size of over five hundred people, assistant ministers, and evangelists come but the leadership of the many meetings (worship, prayer meetings) is placed under the intense authority of the dictatorial minister. This is part of their history and national character which has been cultivated a long time in Korea and is accepted as a matter of course.

On the other hand, a pastor without strong leadership will only thereby lose the confidence [of the people] and cannot fulfill his mission and falls away. We can see many examples of leadershipless pastors getting their positions snatched from them by associate pastors, evangelists, or elders and deacons besides and then getting put out to pasture.

<2> A Reliance On The Clergy

I suppose there is the influence of both Confucian ideals and morals, but this comes more out of the Bible than Confucianism and permeates their daily living.

A faith that makes God [in Korean "Hananim"] first means for members of the church in Korea to believe in making Jesus Christ the son of God first, believe in Christ, and follow him and for "the church as the body of Christ," (Ephesians 1:23), they believe in having total submission with complete reliance. The way they think up to this point is the same as the churches in Japan and the West, too. However, for the Korean Christian, loving the church is understood in a very much different way as they believe in loving the pastor as the representative of Christ and his ambassador. Consequently, they accept the pastor as a person of the highest character on the face of this earth, they offer [the pastor] their greatest trust and love, and work for [him].

To put it specifically, when they would think about buying a business suit for themselves, first, after they buy and present a suit to the pastor, then they begin to buy one of their own. The person of the pastor must be first in every facet. Likewise, it is the same in cases where they buy a car or home. Also, in regard to the pastoral salary, they even have this way of thinking where if "the representative of God has a lower salary than the mayor they apologize to God." In reality, as far as the pastoral salary is concerned, there are not big differences according to the church, but, as far as the standard position goes, they are all the same. They believe deeply in the pastor as the representative of God and the father of [their] soul.

<3> They Make Worship (i.e. The Meetings) Everything And Also Observe Them Strictly At That.

It is based on the message in the Bible (Hebrews 10:25), "As certain ones always do, don't give up the meetings but encourage each other and won't you try to do that as you see that day approaching more and more?," and they consider it utmost for their lives and carry out [this consideration] in consistently going to church and offering up worship. That is, worship is the source of life and the starting point for it. In worship they believe new life, new visions or dreams, orders, and specific objectives are given and at the same time the courage and the strength to accomplish them are given from God.

They believe firmly in what the Lord Jesus said (in John's Gospel 15:5), "I am the vine, you are the branches [on the vine]. If a person is joined to me and I am joined to him, that person will come to bear fruit in abundance; for, apart from me you cannot do one thing," and they believe that they are firmly connected to Christ (i.e. the church) all the time, everywhere and under any condition and there is no way or method to live by except this. Therefore, they put the worship service (the various types of meetings) that are held in the church, the body of Christ above all else.

For a church in Korea, all the meetings are worship services. It is not "an early morning prayer meeting," but "an early morning worship service," and it is not a "home meeting," but "a home worship service." In addition, it is not a local area meeting," but "a local area worship service."

They take the position of understanding as worship services all the meetings that are held and assembled under the name of Christ. They frequently call each meeting a place of true battle where they meet with God through Christ and it is a place of life or death.

<4> Holding Fast To A Martyr Mentality

All the pastors, theologians, and laity will state with a loud voice that the history of the Korean Church is one of martyrs. Also, they understand it with their hearts, agree to it, and even confess it. That is, they will say, "The Korean Church is a church with a foundation solidified by the blood of martyrs.

When one looks at Korean Church history the first mission work was begun by Seung-Hoon Lee (I) of the Roman Catholic Church. "Seung-Hoon Lee, Korea's First baptized believer, was not baptized [by sprinkling] because of mission work but entered the faith through baptism because of [his own] quest for the truth. He returned back to his home country in the same year in March as a born again man bringing back with him several text books, crucifixes, icons, a book on passive obedience and even geometry. Burning with enthusiasm and an attitude of apostolic dedication he awakened the hearts of his people and with a devotion that knew no weariness he served in wanting to bring the light of the gospel to them. When he returned to the capital and spent five years there doing mission work, the amount of followers numbered four thousand," (Kyong-Bae Min, [Min Gyonpe], "Korean Church History," p. 65, Shinkyoh Shuppansha [New Teaching Press]).

In this period of time, beginning with Byuku Lee, who was called at the young age of thirty-three in 1786, three brothers Il-Youn Kweon, Cheol-Youn Kweon, and Yak-Yong Jeong were lead [by] Beom-Woo Kim who began meetings at home in Myong-Dong in Seoul in 1785.

In 1785 while among them Beom-Woo Kim was accused of criminal activity and militant messages, imprisoned, then sent later up to the mountains in Choong Cheong-Do, and met with a martyr's death. In other words, Beom-Woo Kim has the blood of the first martyr in the Korean Church. Nowadays the sanctuary of Myong-Dong Catholic Church where they shine forth the light of Korean truth stands on the house of Beom-Woo Kim and rises high.

Later persecution in the Catholic Church became severe and continued in 1791 as "Church Suffering Under The Bad Year Of The Boar,*" (Ibid., p. 70), in 1801 as "Church Suffering Under The Bad Year Of The Bird,*" (Ibid.p. 73), and the Incident Of The Letter By Hwang-Sa-Young** (Ibid. pp. 75-78), and "The Martyr Of Korea's First Cleric, Dai-Keon Kim," (Ibid., pp. 94-95), and for more than one hundred and ten years persecution and suffering continued without interruption and the blood of many martyrs was spilled.

Secondly, the Korean Protestant Church was begun in 1884 by a medical missionary (Harace G. Allen) of the North American Presbyterian Church. Using this year to mark time, Korea was swallowed up in Japanese persecution. Therefore, the Korean Church inevitably took patriotic and anti Japanese form as "The People's Church." It grew to a church of dying for one's country (with this teaching). The church had revival and had come to extend its powerful influence in the political and cultural realms and elsewhere.

After Korea's great enemy Hirofumi Itoh on October 26, 1909 at Harupin Station shot twice a Catholic believer [named] An and killed him, Imperial Japan increased its hand of persecution more and more and finally on August 22, 1910 it plundered Korea as a Japanese colony. "Worse than the sudden change of the upheaval, [colonization] lasted more than ten years and the nature of the methodical imperial invasion had not ended," (Ibid., pp. 261-262).

The Korean Church then had to bear a heavy cross.

There was a dark night for thirty-six years until August 15, 1945, pressure was on [the church] and the history of martyrdom had continued specifically such as: "The One Hundred And Five Person Incident," (Ibid., pp. 263-271), "The March First Independence Movement," which happened March 1, 1919, (Ibid., pp. 284-299), "Coerced Worship At Japanese Shrines And Persecution," (Ibid., pp. 395-403), "The Incident Of The Arson Attack On The Jai-Am-Ri Church which happened in broad day light on April 15, 1919," (Asashi Newspaper [Morning Sun News], June 22, 1980, p. 25).... During this time in particular, beginning with pastors Gi-Cheol Joo and Jeong-Min Chai fifty persons were martyred while in prison and twenty others narrowly got out of prison.

Thirdly, there was persecution in the church based on a church split which was accompanied by a split in the [Korean] race on June 25, 1950.

The fundamental causes for the split of Korea into a north and a south were colonization for thirty-six years under Japanese imperialism and World War II. The persecution of Korea by imperial Japan did not end August 15, 1945. The loss of the entire nation as a whole people with the war of "June 25th" and its terrible disasters were truly great. But, the persecution of the Christian Church was greater.

"Through this riotous wave, the number of churches which sustained damages and loss were 152 Presbyterian churches, 84 Methodist churches, 27 Holiness churches, and 4 churches of the Salvation Army, and the damages to other religious groups cannot be described in words," (Kyong-Bae Min, "A History Of The Christian Church In Korea," Shinkyoh Shuppansha [New Teaching Press], p. 427). Furthermore, many martyrs were born which statistically cannot be listed as can those 73 of 75 believers in the Roman Catholic Church [called] Jeol-Ra-Book-Do-Ok-Goo-Goon-Won-Dong who were massacred and the 66 people murdered in the Baptist Church [called] Choong-Cheong-Nam-Do-Non-San-Goon-Ban-Chon. Especially in North Korea, there was a terrible persecution beyond description on churches and christians.

As seen in the above, the Koreans are familiar with martyrs to the point where there are many cases where a person has a martyr among one's family or friends. So, in believing in the Lord Jesus Christ one must be ready to become a martyr. Therefore, risking one's life for one's faith and being a testimony is a tradition in the Korean Church. This tradition and history is a source of the revival in the Korean Church today and has become its foundation.

Pastoral Testimonies
-- Reasons And Causes Of The Revival In The Korean Churches--

I questioned pastors and evangelists of Korean churches. The results [of my polling] is summarized as follows below.

<1>It's because of a history of martyrdom.

Almost every one I questioned offered at first the fact that "The one hundred year history of the Korean Church is a history of martyrdom," (Jong-Man Pak, pastor of the Nam-Dai-Jeon Church of the Holiness Christian Church Of Greater Korea), and they emphasized that the churches of Korea were grounded and built on the blood shed by martyrs. Their blood has life and the fact that there is life in blood makes for growth and fruit bearing.

<2>The Religious Character Of The Koreans

As the apostle Paul in the middle of the forum at Aeropagus stated, "O Athenians, in all points you are rich in extreme piety," (Acts 17:22), the Koreans in all points are rich in extreme piety. Seventy percent of the people in this area react in the same way.

<3>The Invasion By Foreigners

When one looks at the history of Korea, they have always been invaded and colonized by many different countries. While in these [predicaments] the resource upon which they have relied has been their faith in God which goes beyond the reality visible to the eye.

o The Rule Of Japan Lasted Thirty-Six Years

o Communist Rule At The Time Of The War Of June Twenty-Fifth

o Military Administration Under The Rule Of The US Armed Forces (The Opinion Of Several Pastors And Evangelists In The Korean Presbyterian Church)

<4>The Division Into North And South At The Thirty-Eighth Parallel

Since June 25, the church has been small, powerless, and weak. But, Christians who have fled from the north (especially, pastors, elders, and deacons) have revived the faith and prospered the church. The believers who came from the north, since they have thrown away everything, they were poor and worked hard, but this situation, on the other hand, was beneficial to "the faith life" and expanded into blessings for all the Korean churches. Also, they believed the unification of the north and the south was not in political, military, or economic [affairs] and did not lie in anything except for the gospel of reconciliation by Christ, that is, anything not based on the gospel of the cross; they prayed for the evangelization of Korea, and persisted in such activity (The Movement For The Entire Evangelizaion Of Korea was not the opinion of a part of the churches, pastors, and leaders, but it was the urgent prayer of Korean Churches and all christians).

<5>God's Special Providence And Pity

As the people of Israel, the Korean people have always been deprived of their country and unable to have a life in peacefulness. In his justice, righteousness, and love God has been merciful on the people of Korea. "The revival of the Korean Church is thoroughly on the mercy of God" responded more than sixty percent of the pastors (Kap-Soo Kim, Head of the Capital Baptist Seminary, et als). It has the same meaning, but there were also pastors that responded with "It was the providence of God the creator of all creatures in heaven and earth," (Ji-Jeon Ryu, Pastor of Dai-Jeon-Mun-Ji Church, Korean Baptist Church, et als).

<6>The Movement Of The Holy Spirit

The movement began in 1907 from Pyong-Yang and spread to the entire country. The focus of this movement began with a complete repentance before God. This happened repeatedly in the history of the Korean Church. For this reason there were many pastors who answered right away that"The Korean Church had revival through the moving of the Holy Spirit," (Book-Ryol Ch'eo, pastor, Dai-Rim Church, Korean Presbyterian Church, et als).

<7>A Movement Of Prayer

This is something that all the people that I questioned always gave me an answer to. And going beyond time, place, circumstances ... they fasted and prayed all night as if their life depended on it. They had that gift and also God's answers.

<8>Fervent Faith In The Second Coming Of Christ

Regarding a belief in the second coming, this was not the view of only a pastor of a Holiness related church but Prebyterian, Methodist, and Baptist pastors also had the same view point.

<9>Gospel Work Among The Public Masses Of People

An easy to understand message and methodolgy was served out to the average person. Therefore, the church of Korea was not a church of special classes of people, but had become a church of one general populace.

<10>An Enumeration Of Many Other Examples (I questioned and had conversations with twenty-eight pastors and evangelists one by one for over an hour. For that reason I went to Korean more than ten times).

o Discipleship Training Based On The Work Of The Prayer Temples

o Evangelism Of Unbelievers According To Worship Service Areas

o Bible Study According To Daily Early Morning Worship Services And Various Meetings

o Evangelism According To Revival Meetings

o Respect For The Clergy

o The Preachers And Their Messages Were Evangelistic

o There Were Lots Of Seminars

End Notes:

*This refers to a year in the twelve year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac.

**Pastor Takao Kiyohiro of Osaka Nozomi Church translated this difficult term and added this note. Hwang-Sa-Young was a man who once lived in Kang-Sang-Do-Ch'ang-Won [ c ] and fled persecution to Ch'ung-Book [ k ] where his old friend Hwang-Pi [ ] joined him and they plotted together a conspiracy to save the Korean Churches. Their first plan was to inform the bishop in Peking by letter, actually on a rag, paek-so/hakusho [ 发, ], of the misery of the cruel persecutions taking place. But before they sent the message out Hwang was arrested and the contents of the letter and their conspiracy were found out. This gave the authorities a legitimate reason to persecute the Roman Catholic Church. In the letter they ask the bishop to seek military action from some western countries to exert pressure on the Korean government to get them to accept the freedom of missions. The letter was so aggressive even the people of Korea came to be hostile to the church. In the end, Hwang was beheaded for treason.

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