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2017-09-26 16:55
By Kwon Yule-jung



During the transition from the Middle Ages to the Age of Enlightenment, there were three major events: the destruction of East Rome in 1453, printing by Johannes Gutenberg in 1455 and Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America in 1492. Those events made many common people aware of themselves and began to expand the scope of their knowledge and understanding of the outside world from the long time of dark ages. In the next century, the two periods of the Renaissance and Religious Reformation expedited the process toward the Enlightenment Age.

The Reformation was initiated by Martin Luther, a Catholic priest in Germany who protested the established religion and other religious leaders for prevalent indulgences to lay people in churches in return for “guarantee to the heaven.” He spearheaded his causes of religious movement called 95 theses in a cathedral on the last day of October, in 1517. Those who sympathized with his philosophy were called “Protestants.”

Korean protestant religion began with the arrival of two missionaries and one of their wives on Wolmi Island in Inchon on Easter Day in 1885. The religion and its followers made great contributions to this nation by establishing many schools and medical centers around the country during the Japanese colonial period, leading independence movements, opposing North Korea’s communist invasion during the Korean War and freeing the people from dictatorship.

While protestants in Korea might have once numbered around 12 million, as claimed by many Christian leaders, that number may have dropped to 8 million today. In general, the religion is known as the worst victim of the Information Age since the 1990s.

What is the exact cause and answer of this drop in Protestant numbers?

I find them in the ongoing tax opposition of religious priests. Among members of many religions, protestants and their pastors are notorious for their fierce opposition to taxes. However, none of their excuses are justified. Many Koreans regard them tax evaders rather than genuine priests. Their efforts to avoid taxes contradicts to the efforts and beliefs of their noble Christian ancestors in the Reformation and the Biblical teachings, like "Light and Salt of Society and Dead Faith without Specific Action or Activities". They should get together to pay proper income taxes and act as role models to members of other religions and the general public.

The religion is also accused of leading the anti-homosexual movement, a movement marginalizes and stigmatizes members of the LGBT community Korean protestant pastors preach against the LGBT as non-Biblical and counter-divine, based only, however, on the Old Testament and not on the much more meaningful New Testament. On the other hand, they try to accept their identities and understand their ordeals with Christian love. It is the very true faith, hope and love shown to the weak, impoverished, underprivileged by the Saviour, Jesus Christ. Such may be the only way for the religion to recover from the declining trend and achieve the honor and glory of the First Churches. 



The writer is the chief director of the Daejeon National Cemetery. Write to him at england6227@hanmail.net.

 

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