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Title: Building a local Christian theology in the context of Korean religious pluralism : a critical analysis of the theology of Ryu Yongmo, 1890-1981
Author: Park, M. W.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2001
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The thesis examines the thought of the Korean theologian, Ryu Yongmo, whose committed his life to developing a local Korean interpretation of Christian faith that engaged openly with the religious pluralism that has defined Korean culture through many centuries. The contribution of Ryu Yongmo to the history of Christian theology in Korea has largely been neglected in critical scholarship. His theology is advocated by a small group of loyal disciples, but it has been ignored by the Korean Protestant churches which general favour an exclusivist approach to the question of Christianity and religious pluralism. The thesis aims to remedy this oversight, and to offer a critical analysis of Ryu Yongmo's thinking, steering a course between the apologetical acclaim of his disciples and the potential resistance of mainline Christianity. The thesis divides into three parts. The first part traces the history of religious pluralism in Korea as the context into which Christianity was introduced by Catholic and Protestant missionaries. The main argument of this part of the thesis is that religious pluralism is inherently part of Korean culture in which shamanism, Confucianism and Buddhism form interactive layers of society, with the result that Koreans integrate elements of these three religious traditions in their social and individual identity. Missionary Christianity from the West regarded this as syncretistic and introduced the concept of Christian exclusivism. The study of the life experience of Ryu Yongmo demonstrates his growing disaffection with the missionary Christianity of his early life, leading to this break with the institutional church, and his struggle to build a local theology that enables Christianity to engage with the religious pluralism of Korea. Part Two examines the theological ideas of Ryu Yongmo as expressed in the extensive diaries that he wrote over the last twenty years of his life. The main chapters of the thesis focus on three central ideas in Ryu Yongmo's thought: his concept of God expressed in the term Han'uhnim: his understanding of Jesus and Christ as expressed in the term Ol; and his vision of Christian faith and living as "returning to One" as expressed in the term Kwi-il. In its third part the thesis attempts a critical evaluation of Ryu Yongmo's thought in terms of constructing a local theology of religious pluralism which addresses Korean realities and adopts Korean methods of religious knowledge.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available