Date of Award
University Scholars Director
Dr. Jeff Keuss
Korea, Christianity, Shamanism, Mahayana Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism
Whether one is speaking of its progressive elements or its charismatic characteristics, Korean Christianity exhibits a vibrancy that stands out among the religious traditions of modern East Asia. Its evangelistic zeal and enormous growth have led to its being a locus point of Christian faith for those in non-Western contexts. In light of its vibrancy and prominence, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the church in Korea is proof that Christianity may thrive outside of the West.
At the same time, the reasons for Christianity’s success on the Korean peninsula are more difficult to pin down. Why has it been so profoundly successful? What has influenced it? How has the Christian faith come to be so meaningful to the Korean people? Studies abound which relate the “answers” to these questions, and many of them have much to contribute to the study of Christianity in Korea. There is no doubt that answers will be multi-faceted and varied, just as Korean Christianity itself is. If one examines, however, both the theological and practical emphases of Korean Christianity in conjunction with the religious history of the Korean peninsula, it will become obvious that the former can be attributed in large part to the latter’s influence. In light of this, the following study will examine how non-Christian religious traditions have influenced the unique emphases of Korean Christianity. This will entail an examination of the pneumatological impact of Shamanism, the soteriological and eschatological influence of Buddhism, and Neo-Confucianism’s effect on Christian morality and ideology.
Lewis, Colin, "The Soul of Korean Christianity: How the Shamans, Buddha, and Confucius Paved the Way for Jesus in the Land of the Morning Calm" (2014). Honors Projects. Paper 6.