Saturday, July 8, 2017

Pseudo Christian Movements in Korea

Articles on the front page and in editorials in both Catholic papers commented on the Shinchonji Church of Jesus. It goes back to the group known as the Olive Tree Movement by Park Tae Sun which lost many of his members after his death to be resurrected again in other apocalyptic Korean movements. Manhee Lee is the founder of this New Heaven and New Earth (Shinchonji) movement which continues to grow.

The bishops have shown concern since Catholics are joining the movement and causing problems in families. Protestants have taken a more active stand, and earlier, against the movement and have warned the Christians. The movement seems to have found an easier time with Catholics. A book was published as a resource to help understand the aggressive tactics of the New Heaven and New Earth members.

Korea has a love for the occult and since pluralism is seen everywhere, Korea is open to accepting all kinds of religious ideas. According to some who have studied the situation: pseudo-Christian religions in Korea are many. They do not accept the historical understanding of Christianity that was handed down to us in history: Bible and tradition. They are attracted more to the teachings of a messiah type charismatic leader. 

In the religious census, every ten years the Christians are divided into two groups: Catholics and Protestants. Many do not care to be associated with Protestantism and many of the Protestants are not happy to be listed with many of those who consider themselves Christian, but Christian citizens have only two choices. 

The historical Protestant churches would consider many of these movements pseudo-religions. Many of the Christians participate in self-training groups of all kinds, many of which are religious in nature but since it is in the private domain, little is said and many who participate have no idea of the religious nature of the group they have joined. 

The intimacy of a small knit community is missing in many of the Christian churches and in Catholicism, this is a known problem. Consequently, we have those who just leave and join other Christian denominations that are friendlier and make them feel accepted. This is what the New Heaven and New Earth movement offer their new members but at a great price.

One editorial mentions that within the Catholic communities because of structures, Christians are not finding joy in their lives.  They are not experiencing God or expressing love in their lives but rather looking for personal peace and 'spiritual worldliness'. "This consists in seeking not the Lord's glory but human glory and personal well-being" (Gospel of Joy # 93).  A functional approach to Christianity, without the heart and joy that a disciple of Jesus should have, leaves these Christians open to the overtures that come from these fringe groups.

Hopefully, these pseudo-Christian religions will show how poorly we have done in building community and motivate us to remember what is important.

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