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Is the Church a Center of Culture or Faith? Are Both Possible?

I have seen my share of problems with Korean churches as I am the son of an immigrant pastor. My parents are not like many immigrant pastors, and they have been able to step away from the ministry at times and do other things as well. It has allowed them a broader perspective than I have seen from many pastors and allowed them to see that it is very difficult at times to separate economics from church and also culture from church as well. However, they have been great examples of loving Christ and following him alone despite what people say and despite what material success could be there.

They have helped me believe that you can be Korean and Christian, but that my faith should precede my culture. And when I read this blog entry regarding Asian American Church, I found myself completely in awe with agreement, particularly in his conclusion:

"Asian American churches are extra-biblical at best. At worst, it becomes unbiblical…"

Zing! To get good perspective, read the whole entry, but I really believe that at times, we hold ourselves back from a fuller manifestation of seeing the body of Christ celebrated here in ways that are not present in an Asian American church. Furthermore, because we are predisposed to the notion that we are more comfortable with people that look like ourselves, we forsake the desire to engage the gospel with a larger audience and continually demand to see more teaching, programs, and events with fewer resources. While one could argue that we could turn around and accuse Caucasians and African Americans of their self-imposed segregation just as easily, suffice it to say that in many Asian American churches, were you to close your eyes and enter the worship service — due to the clear English delivery, the identical worship music, and lack of culture-specific material, you would scarcely know that you were in an Asian American church at all!

Ultimately then, the objective goal of the Asian American (not immigrant!) church, by my deduction, would not necessarily mean an expression of faith that is specifically derived from our Asian Americaness, but rather it is an excuse to preserve our culture!

Could it be that our effort to preserve our culture (read comfort zone), rather than transform our culture, be an idol, the kind that in Jonah 2 is described as one that could cause us to "forfeit the grace that could be [ours]"? Is there such a thing as Korean Christianity? Is there something distinctive in that culture that God is raising up and then, what if that were true? In the twilight between one culture and another, would there be something distinctive in Korean American Christianity? Or further to the point, Asian American Christianity?

Perhaps there is, but as my friend above, mcshoo, astutely puts it, it's extra-biblical at best.

But the notion that there could be a particular Korean Christianity has intrigued me and I've found an article that presupposes it. Stay tuned while I transcribe…

About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

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