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Minjung theology presentation for contextual theology class



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  • 1. United Theological College Contextual Theology Group Presentation Taurai Emmanuel Maforo, Nyevero Musekiwa, Simbai Dzibakwi(Kasambira), Martha Mberi, and Dorothy Machedye(Mumvuma)
  • 2. Presentation Outline Topic 1 Introduction 2 Definition of terms 3 Origins 4 Two distinct features of Minjung Theology – Han and Dan 5 The Korean Political Context 6 Central Theme of Minjung Theology 7 Concern of Minjung theology 8 Minjung theology and the Bible 9 Minjung as an expression of the Holy Spirit 10 Conclusion
  • 3. 1. Introduction Minjung theology is born out of reflective questions and resultantly finds a unique understanding of Christ and how to follow Him faithfully. In other words in their quest to get answers they constructed a local theology presenting a radical view of the portrait of Christ – a radical re-reading of the Christology of the Kerygma. Questions they needed to deal with were: a. How do you find the hope for freedom after centuries of oppression from four different world powers? b. Is freedom and peace a state of utopia? c. What spark is there to transform the pain that you feel within and the emptiness of the world around you? •
  • 4. Locke
  • 5. Aim of Presentation  This presentation is thus aimed at laying bare the meaning of Minjung, both as a people and a theology together with their interpretation of the gospel message. In the process we shall explore the two distinct features of Minjung which are HAN and DAN.
  • 6. 2. Definition of Terms
  • 7. Minjung ○ It is a Korean word, but it is a combination of two Chinese characters “min” and “jung”. ○ “Min” may be translated as “people” and, ○ “jung” as “the mass”
  • 8. ○ Tong H. Moon, one of Minjung theologians, defines the meaning of "Minjung" in this way : "The term came to be used first during the Yi dynasty (18921910) when the common people were oppressed by Yangban class, the ruling class of the time ... ○ At that time anyone who was excluded from the Yangban class was a Minjung. ○ During the Japanese occupation (19101945), most Koreans were reduced to Minjung status except for a small group who collaborated with the Japanese imperialists.
  • 9. The Minjung are those people who have suffered from: Exploitation, poverty; sociopolitical oppression, and cultural repression throughout the ages.  They know the pain of dehumanization.  Their lives; have been rooted in the age-old experience of suffering and the present experience of it.  They have been treated as non-beings by their rulers. Yet they have not given in but resisted the oppression of their rulers. They have suffered for changing Korea into a' just nation.
  • 10. What the Minjung are not
  • 11. Proletariat      But the meaning of the Minjung cannot be consumed by the term the proletariat. The Minjung is not a strictly economic term. It is rather a political term. It emphasizes the Minjung as the actor of the society and history. The Minjung seek their liberation in their concrete historical context.
  • 12. Citizens    However, the citizen is distinct from the Minjung. While the Minjung do not enjoy at present time the full and substantial participatory membership in the society, the citizen by its definition enjoys the full membership of the society and country. The Minjung may be citizens, but they are at most nominal citizens. They are citizens only by name, not in a substantial sense.
  • 13. Nation   Although the Korean nation has suffered for a long time, within the nation the Minjung have suffered more by both external (foreign) and internal rulers. Ahn Byung-Mu stated that in the Korean history there had not been for the Minjung but for the nation, and that the Minjung had been veiled and overshadowed by the nation.
  • 14. Minorities or the others  It seems hard to identify the minorities or the others with the Minjung.  The Minjung denotes the multitudes and ordinary people who are in a position of being governed and sometimes being oppressed by the powerful.
  • 15. BUT!!
  • 16. The Multitude    According to Hardt and Negri, and also Sugirtharajah(Asian faces of Jesus), agree that the Ochlos in the Markan Gospel is most close to the multitude. Multitude is as inclusive an idea as minjung. Multitude is the term most illuminating on the meaning of Minjung.
  • 17. Minjung theology • Minjung Theology - the people's theology emerged in the 1970s from the experience of South Korean Christians in the struggle for social justice. It is a people's theology, and, according to its authors, "a development of the political hermeneutics of the Gospel in terms of the Korean reality“. [Philip L. Wickeri, (1985) Asian Theologies in Review, Theology Today]
  • 18. The Push Factor • In the 1970s, a handful of theologians and lay leaders became involved in the struggle of the "Minjung" (the oppressed) for justice and freedom. • As their involvement on behalf of the Minjung intensified, the Korean government dismissed them from their universities and seminaries. • Having lost their teaching jobs: they chose to participate more actively in Minjung movements. They chanted with labourers staging sit-instrikes, demonstrated with student in the streets, and cried with the families of Political prisoners.
  • 19. • When these Christians committed • • • • themselves to Minjung movements, they; "were forced to reflect upon their Christian discipleship in basement interrogation' rooms, in trials, facing court-martial tribunals, hearing the allegations of prosecutors, and in, making their own final defence. Out of these in-depth human experiences, Minjung theology was born. (Minjung Theology: A Korean Contextual Theology by Rev. A. Sung Park, the author, is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church and a PhD candidate at the Graduate Theological union in Berkeley, CA.)
  • 20. Origins/Sources of Minjung theology • “Minjung is thus a term which grew out of the Christian experiences in the political struggle for justice.  This theology is an accumulation and articulation of theological reflections  It is a theology of the oppressed in the Korean political situation, a theological response to the oppressors, and it is a response of the oppressed to the Korean church and its mission.  Theology of Minjung is a creation of those Christians who were forced to reflect upon their Christian discipleship in basement interrogation rooms
  • 21. Origins/Sources of Minjung theology • They reflected on their Christian commitment in • • • • • prison cells; in their letters from prison to families and friends, in their readings of books sent by friends all over the world, in their unemployment, in their stay at home under house-arrest, while subject to a twenty-four-hour watch over their activities, and during visits with their friends.
  • 22. Two distinct features of Minjung Theology  Han  Dan
  • 23. Han ○ HAN can be defined as “a feeling of helpless suffering and oppression.” ○ It can be translated as “a feeling of unresolved resentment against unjustifiable suffering.” ○ Or, it is “a deep awareness of the contradictions in a situation and of the unjust treatment meted out to the people or a person by the powerful. ○ The feeling of Han is not just a one-time psychological response to a situation but is an accumulation of such feelings and experiences.” [Suh Kwang-sun David, “A Biographical Sketch of an Asian Theological Consultation” Minjung Theology: People as the Subjects of History, ed. Commission on Theological Concerns of the Christian Conference of Asia, (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis,1983) PP.24-25.]
  • 24. Dan ○ DAN is a soteriological term in Minjung theology and is the ○ ○ ○ ○ gospel response to han. Dan literally means “to cut off”. It has two dimensions, the personal level of self-denial and the societal level of ending cycles of revenge against oppression (which would create new modes of oppression). It seeks transformation of injustice within, which in turn affects the community. Following Jesus is not about an eventual spiritual liberation in heaven, but concerned with the daily rejection of revenge and violence, both inward and outward. (Chi Ha Kim, “The Dream of Revolutionary Religion”, Living Theology in Asia, New York, Orbis Books, 1982, P.24.)
  • 25. Central Theme of Minjung Theology
  • 26. Paul Tillich  For Paul Tillich, the norm of Christian theology is "Jesus as the Christ." Instead of talking about the norm of theology, Minjung theology deals with the central theme of theology.
  • 27. There are two different opinions on the central theme in Minjung theology. 1. 2. Nam-Dong Suh says that the central theme of Minjung theology should not be Jesus but the Minjung. Byung-Mu Ahn says that its central theme is both Jesus and the Minjung because they are inseparable.
  • 28. Nam-Dong Suh     Suh asserts that the oppressed (Ochlos) were not a channel to help our understanding of Jesus, but rather Jesus was the channel to help our understanding of the oppressed. Jesus' cries and suffering represent those of the Ochlos. Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve the Ochlos. Jesus was concerned about the Ochlos than he was concerned about himself. Therefore, the central theme of Minjung theology is the Minjung.
  • 29. Byung-Mu Ahn      Ahn asserts that Jesus and the Ochlos cannot be understood separately. To develop his theory, Ahn analyzes the term "Son of Man." The title "Son of Man" in the book of Daniel originally connotes a collective expression and later the title was given to Jesus. A few New Testament scholars recognize that Jesus as the Son of Man not only was one person, but also represented a group of people {Ochlos). Hence, Ahn does not separate Jesus from the' Ochlos. In fact, Jesus was one of the Ochlos. Without Jesus, we cannot understand the Ochlos. Without the Ochlos, we cannot understand Jesus fully. We are able to find the true identity of Jesus and of the OchIos only in their relation to each other. Thus, Ahn's theme is Jesus and the Minjung.
  • 30. Concern of Minjung theology • Minjung theology is not primarily concerned about the Korean Christians in particular, but the oppressed Korean Minjung in general. • This theology specifically discovers the deep-seated feeling of Han in the Minjung and endeavours to transform it through Dan. • Dan means to cut off 'the vicious circle of the Minjung's Han by exorcizing the evil spirit of revenge against the oppressive rulers from the Han-ridden hearts of the Minjung (self-denial) and by transforming the Han into the power of revolution for establishing a God's nation.
  • 31. Concern of Minjung theology    The issue of revenge thrives on Marxist ideology of conflict because the oppresser can always find ways to crush any dissenting voices because they have the ammunition. Since Minjung theology is not accepted by a majority of Korean Christians, it remains a challenge for Minjung theologians to persuade Korean Christians to Minjung theology. The destiny of Minjung theology is, however, not to be a theology of church dogmatics but a theology for the oppressed Minjung, of the oppressed Minjung, and by the oppressed Minjung.
  • 32. Concern of Minjung theology • Minjung theology has the goal of contributing to the Minjung in their efforts at becoming the subjects in history, thus it participates in the liberating actions of the Minjung. • In reality, however, the Minjung are mostly inactive and kept in the bondage of everyday survival games. • The Minjung are closely watched and controlled in a very subtle but inhuman manner by the institutions of liberal democracy.
  • 33. Concern of Minjung theology • Minjung theology aims at their liberation from such oppressive conditions and helps them to become the subjects of history and the carriers of substantial democracy where the Minjung are participatory actors and decide on both the destiny of their own lives and that of the society as a whole. [Rene Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, (Maryknoll, N.Y, Orbis Books, 2004).]
  • 34. Minjung theology and the Bible   The basic hermeneutical task of Minjung theology is not to interpret the Bible (the text)"' in the light of the Korean situation (the context), but to interpret the suffering experience of the Korean Minjung (the context) in the light of the Bible (the text). Minjung theology contends that the Minjung do not exist for the authority of the Bible, but the authority of the Bible exists for the freedom of the Minjung. This does not mean that! The Minjung are more important than the Bible; it means that, the Minjung are a starting point for a biblical hermeneutics.
  • 35. Minjung theology and the Bible  “In Minjung theology the bible becomes nonreligious, it becomes socio-economic history and the scriptures are not the revelation given by God – takes history and culture as the best references. The bible is only a record of an oppressed people’s experience”. Eunsoo Kim
  • 36. Minjung as an expression of the Holy Spirit  Minjung theology's development in Korea as an indigenous theology of liberation is a genuine response to the Holy Spirit in Asia's fastest growing Christian population, though not without its problematic elements and critics. Bretzke’s article reflects on the inculturation of minjung theology in terms of a five-stage framework suggested by the Pentecost account in Acts 2:142. "Cracking the Code: Minjung Theology as an Expression of the Holy Spirit in Korea." Pacifica (October 1997): 319-330. By James T. Bretzke, S.J.
  • 37. Minjung as an expression of the Holy Spirit  "The People of God believes that it is led by the Spirit of the Lord who fills the whole world. Moved by that faith it tries to discern in the events, the needs, and longings which it shares with other men of our time, what may be genuine signs of the presence or of the purpose of God. For faith throws a new light on all things and makes known the full ideal which God has set for man, thus guiding the mind towards solutions that are fully human." Translation from Austin P. Flannery, O.P. ed., The Documents of Vatican II, (New York: Pillar Books, 1975).
  • 38. Conclusion Minjung theology is therefore a theology of liberation, and a construct of the oppressed multitudes through a ‘deliberate’ process of conscientization causing a contextualized rereading of the gospel(that sent shock-waves to the spines of the Elite Korean Christians) with an intention to eliminate Han through Dan. In other words it was a realized attempt to change the course of Korean history turning the onceperceived objects into subjects of history.
  • 39. Thank You And God Bless You All c.2013 @United Theological College