Pentecostalism is alive and thriving in Korea—so much so, in fact, that the typical Korean Presbyterian could almost pass for Pentecostal. Indeed, Western visitors find it strange to hear the murmurs (even shouts) of collective, audible prayer in “staid” Presbyterian congregations throughout Korea.
The pastors of some of these churches have had difficulty relating to this charismatic activity. The products of Korea’s vast and sophisticated university and seminary opportunities, these men tend to be influenced more by intellectual analysis than by the more supernatural aspects of the charismatic movement. Still, the “Holy Spirit infatuation” of their largely working-class congregants has forced pastors and theologians alike to investigate anew the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and his role in the life of the believer.
Beyond this local church dichotomy, however, are the larger tensions between Pentecostals and the evangelical community in general. These tensions are due, in part, to the tremendous numeric success of “full gospel” churches like that of Paul Yonggi Cho. Charges of “sheep stealing” have become almost commonplace as non-Pentecostal churches lose members to Cho and others.
But apart from these petty jealousies lies the more serious question of the theological integrity—or lack thereof—of the message proclaimed from some Pentecostal pulpits. One prominent Pentecostal leader, for example, advocates a “fivefold gospel,” adding to the more traditional themes of salvation, healing, baptism in the Spirit, and the imminent return of Christ a fifth article of faith: “blessing.” This has apparent pragmatic appeal to the burgeoning ...1
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