John Calvin's doctrine of the Christian life in community : a critical and constructive engagement with the Korean Presbyterian life (1884-1961)
This dissertation is a critical evaluation of the Korean Presbyterian life in community based on John Calvin's profound awareness of the importance of community in his doctrine of the Christian life. Although the Korean Presbyterians claim that their theological basis is deeply rooted in Calvin's theology, they have been seriously lacking in this distinctive feature. The most important reason is that the Korean Presbyterian Church has understood Calvin through the narrow window of the American Calvinism of New England which presents itself in a modified form lacking the full scale of Calvin's theology. For this reason, a study is needed which analyses Calvin's own interpretation of the Christian life. In order to accomplish its task, this thesis is divided into two parts. In Part one, this study undertakes to examine Calvin's awareness of,the community feature in terms of his doctrines of creation, anthropology, ecclesiologyand civil government. This examination demonstrates that Calvin's underlying thought on the Christian life is his concern for community. By implementing this investigation, in Part two, this thesis evaluates the formation and development of non-communityfeatures in the life of the Korean Presbyterians in terms of their theological, cultural-religious, and political backgrounds. The study demonstrates that although it is true to say that the early Presbyterian missionaries were Calvinists in some general sense, they were not exhaustively captivated by Calvin himself or his theology. The thing that dominated their minds was to proselytize for individual souls. In such fervent works, they found no necessity to root Calvin's theology in the Korean Presbyterian Church, nor did they provide appropriate teachings when they encountered the particular Korean political situations arid cultural heritage which threatened to tear the community apart. Consequently, the study of Calvin's own interpretation of the Christian life should be used as the inspiration for a creative solution to the present problem of the Korean Presbyterian Church.