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Shamanistic influences on Korean Christianity 
15th-Feb-2006 01:37 pm
I’ve been reading an article about Shamanistic influences in Korean Christianity at the Rick Ross website. (http://www.rickross.com/reference/yoidoyonggi/yoido3.html) I have seen this discussed on forums before, but I was able to connect some of the things that were said to my own experiences with UBF.

For example, the author of the article, Jeremy Reynalds, writes:
“One Korean scholar believes that Shamanism poses a very real danger to Biblical Christianity. He writes, "Korean Christianity faces imminent and dramatic confrontation with the power of Shamanism. If we overcome, we remain true to Jesus Christ. If we compromise, we are reduced to yet another form of Shamanism with Christian veneer" (Lee 1994:3-4). This same scholar says that "bok," or material blessing, lies at the heart of Shamanism. He says that among other (negative concepts) shamanism emphasizes material blessing and success in society without any accompanying concern for others. "It is individualistic, self-centered and possessed with selfism; a combination which results in divisiveness. Bok is not amenable to either individual or social ethics" (Lee 1994:4). With this in mind, it is perhaps not surprising that the concept of Biblical blessing eventually became distorted in the Korean church.”

I remember that after spending time with UBF members, I started to hear a lot about how God will "bless" us, not only with spiritual riches, but also materially (for example, when we got a large tax return, this was “God’s blessing” in our lives). Also, these blessings were connected with the things we would do in life; if we faithfully carried out the “ministry” God had for us (a UBF-based ministry), we would gain God’s blessing. I have no problem believing that God blesses us when we obey him (for example, He blessed Daniel when Daniel abstained from food forbidden by God). But I have also learned that sometimes, people who live godly lives have hard lives in this world, and sometimes those who live apart from God have comfortable lives in this world (for example, in the parable about the rich man and Lazarus, in which the sinful man is rich in this life, and godly Lazarus is a poor man). We had started to think we would be guaranteed “blessings” if we did the things UBF prescribed for us. When things in our lives started to get difficult, we thought we were doing something wrong, even though God often uses hard times to test and strengthen our faith. Another quote in the comments section...
15th-Feb-2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
That was a very, very good point. We already know that UBF is deeply tainted with Confucianism, buth there are surely influences of shamanism as well.

And yes, the praying with a certain number is similar to Yongghi Cho's teaching that by visualizing something concrete, we can force God to give this to us. He teaches that if we don't receive it is because we did not vizualize concretely enough. (While James says that "You ask, and don't receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures." - which is exactly the problem you are mentioning.)

I could give many examples from my experience. For instance, Kaleb Hong once tried to pit two Korean missionaries off against each other. In the announcements after the service, he praised the one who was busy inviting sutdents, but neglecting his study, and rebuked the one who was more busy for her study instead of inviting students. By chance, the missionary who had neglected his study, somehow managed to pass a test, while the other missionary despite her efforts did not pass. So Kaleb Hong took this as a lesson that God blessed the missionary who was more busy for UBF and did not bless the other one. (In the long run, however, the studious missionary got her Ph.D., while the other one failed. Kaleb Hong never took them as an example again ;-) As another example, one shepherdess made a bad examination. She complained so much and nearly left UBF because she believed in what Kaleb Hong had told her - she would get the best degree if she spends her whole time with UBF.

Anyway, it is a strange teaching. You are demanded to work for UBF, then God will bless you and, in your example, you get a large tax return. But then again, you are expected to give this large tax return back to God (i.e. UBF). This is all ridiculous. The only ones who are materially blessed in UBF are the leaders, like Peter Chang with his 4-6 houses. Not because God loves them so much, but because they take the money from the poor members who are all indebted.
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