Guest / Limited Access /

South Korea's missions movement received a growing amount of criticism after a group of 23 church volunteers were abducted in July while traveling in Afghanistan on a medical-aid trip.

Shortly after the group was taken hostage, several Korean newspapers published editorials questioning the Christians' decision to travel to a dangerous country. One of South Korea's widely circulated newspapers, The Chosun Ilbo, chastised Christians, saying they were taking unnecessary risks abroad.

"It is simply futile for Koreans to engage in missionary or other religious activities in a country like Afghanistan," the July 23 editorial stated. "Religious groups should realize once and for all that dangerous missionary and volunteer activities in Islamic countries including Afghanistan not only harm Korea's national objectives, but also put other Koreans under a tremendous amount of duress."

Similarly, some non-Christian Koreans are expressing critical sentiments, said Eugene Cho, a Korean who previously served on the staff of the 25,000-member Onnuri Presbyterian Church in Seoul.

"They've been really criticizing the larger evangelical church movement: 'Have they been irresponsible? Why are they going to these places? Are they prepared?'" said Cho, who now pastors Quest Church in Seattle. "Those are larger missions questions that people need to wrestle with."

Sung-Deuk Oak, a UCLA professor who studies Korean Christianity, said Koreans have long criticized "self-centered" megachurches in Seoul, because they believe the churches spend money on themselves without paying attention to social and political issues.

"Now they attack the churches' triumphalism in mission, lack of sensitivity toward other cultures and religions, and the theological fundamentalism ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedNancy Writebol: Ebola Is a Spiritual Battle
Subscriber Access Only Nancy Writebol: Ebola Is a Spiritual Battle
The missionary nurse who survived the deadly virus says medicine alone won't cure West Africa.
TrendingMark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
Mark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
"I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission."
Editor's PickThe Softer Face of Calvinism
The Softer Face of Calvinism
Reformed theology is more irenic and diverse than you think, says theologian Oliver Crisp.
Comments
Christianity Today
Costly Commitment
hide thisSeptember September

In the Magazine

September 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.