Jesus Christ Among Asian Minjung: A Christological Reflection

by Yong-Bok Kim

Kim Yong-Bock (family name Kim), Ph. D., is President of Hanil University and Theological Seminary in Chonbuk, Korea (Wanju-Kun Sangkwan-Myun, Shinri, 694-1; Chonbuk, Korea 565-830).  He received his Masters of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University.  He has been a teaching fellow at Princeton Theological Seminary, an international consultant to the Commission on Ecumenical Missions and Relations, National Board of Missions, of the United Presbyterian Church (USA), and is founder and Director of the Christian Center for Asian Studies,  and  Director of the Doctor of Ministries Studies, a joint program with San Francisco Theological Seminary.

This paper was written in August, 1989.


Minjung means the People of God — all people. Who is Jesus Christ among the people of Asia is very closely related to the question of who is the Minjung. The author asks how the Minjung experience God in their concrete historical context today. He reviews how Christian communities viewed Jesus Christ in Asia, that is, who they experience who God incarnate is. Western Christologies are deeply ingrained in the life of the Christian communities of Asia, but they have severe limitations.


Who is Jesus Christ among the people of Asia is very closely related to the question of who is the Minjung. Who Jesus Christ is very much dependent upon who the Minjung is. Two questions are mutually dependent with each other. In Minjung theology, there is an affirmation that the Messiah is of the Minjung and the Minjung is of the Messiah, and the two cannot exist without each other.

In this consultation, our question is how the Minjung experience God in their concrete historical context today. This is indeed a very important question and a very fertile one to bear much fruits in the near future.

Methodologically let us first discern the socio-biography of the Minjung? Then, we will briefly review how our Christian communities viewed Jesus Christ in Asia. This will lead to our question who Jesus Christ is among the Minjung of Asia, that is, who they experience who God incarnate is. We raise this question as a sharply Christological one, for the theological question has to become truly Christological in order that it become truly historical.

I. The Minjung in the Global Market Place

The people are becoming global victims in the new global vortex of marketization.

(1)Victimization of the peoples in the global political economy

(2)Erosion of nation states structures and political apathization of the people

(3)Diffusion of violence from international-national to global-local

(4)Religious cultural subjugation of the peoples in the culture of global market

II. Reflection on the Past Christologies

There are certain difficulties for Asian peoples to accept the Western Christological formula. There may be two reasons: one is political one and the other is cultural one. Christ has been presented as politically unacceptable, for Christ has been clothed as the dominant ruler such as king, conqueror, or even colonizer. And Christ has been presented as culturally alien to Asian peoples. Christ as God-man is o alien to the Confucian mind that Christ was regarded a SPIRIT-INTOXICATED MAN.

The Western Christologies have been introduced and deeply ingrained in the life of the Christian communities of Asia. We cannot ignore these Western Christologies completely; but we must also recognize their severe limits. The Chalcedonian Christology has not been intelligible to the Asian people, for they did not have same mythological and/or metaphysical categories to understand it. Reformation traditions have introduced Christ as individual person for each individual ; and this has severely limited social dimension of Christ.

Recently Western modern theologies heavily dependent upon modern philosophical (epistemological or other) concepts for theological interpretations; and this trend, too, neglected the religio-cultural and intellectual life of Asian peoples for theology, while claiming universality of Western theologies. Quest for historical Jesus and for secularization of the gospel, for example, was very much influenced the modernity of the Western civilization; and, consequently, Asian religious-cultural traditions were regarded as pre-modern and neglected not only as "pagan", but also as antiquated.

There has, however, been various efforts to indegenize Christian theology, especially Christology. In paintings of Asian Christian communities Christ took Asian cultural forms in a most vivid way. Asian Ecumenical movements have tried to view Christ as a person among the suffering and struggling peoples of Asia. Here Christ has been viewed as the liberator of the poor, alienated, oppressed and discriminated peoples in Asia. Perhaps we need to review these contributions more systematically.

In Minjung theology, Christological reflections have been closely related to the life of Minjung. Classical "Christological statement" of the Minjung theology has been, "Jesus Christ is the Messiah of the Minjung(Kim)." Or a statement, "Jesus is the Minjung, or the Minjung is Jesus (the corporate person)(Ahn)." This last statement has caused considerable discussions. But the intent of such statement is to avoid the Western metaphysical and mythological Christology and to make Christ radically historical.


Biblically Jesus has been given various titles of Messiah: (1) King and Lord is a prominent tile. In KJV Mar 15:32 it is written, Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him. In KJV Luk 2:11, it is written, For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. In KJV Luk 23:2, it is written, And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this [fellow] perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.

In KJV Joh 1:41 he is called a messiah : He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. In KJV Joh 4:25 it is said, The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. In KJV Joh 4:42 it is stated, And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard [him] ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. In KJV Joh 20:31 it is said, But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.


There is no way to experience God on earth in separation with the question of the power; and there is no other way to grasp the reality of the power without Minjung experiences of the power. Particularly because Christianity in Asia has been closely associated with the Western powers, colonial and neo-colonial, and because Asian Christianity in general has tended to be associated with the powerful in Asian societies, this question is critically important.

Even Christology of Jesus as the liberator has to deal with the question of power in liberation process in a clear and unambiguous terms. Otherwise, it could fall into a triumphalist mode of Christology and it may face an ambiguous situation in the post-liberational situation as well as in the liberational process itself. Thus any Asian Christology has to deal with the question of the power.

Biblical Christology has been misunderstood by Christologies of the powerful, for Christ has been often called as the King and the Lord which say,"Jesus is the powerful over the people." Thus, Jesus Christ became a captive of the powerful, with a GOLDEN CROWN.

The Minjung theology takes the KENOSIS OF POWER as the fundamental Christological statement:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth; And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father (KJV Phi 2:5ff.)

The other Christological notion is social and collective modality of EN CHRISTOS : in KJV 1Co 15:22, it is stated, For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. In KJV Gal 3:13- 28, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

In John the decisive social incarnational statement is pronounced; and this is consistent with the O.T. tradition.

KJV Joh 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Minjung and Power : A Biblical and Theological Perspective

The reality of power is complex; and in human history the power has been the perennial problem. Use and misuse of the power in all human, social and political relations and interactions has been the question of utmost importance. In the liberation movements from oppressive powers the question of power has been always raised not only in terms of use or misuse of the power, but also in terms of the very nature of the power. In the Minjung theology it is a truism that the question of power cannot be separated from the life of the Minjung in history. The question of the power is not merely raised as an objective question of the power as such or phenomenology of power.But it affirms that the true nature of power can only be properly understood in relation to the lives of the Minjung. Furthermore, as the victims of the dominant power, it is the Minjung who are the prime perceiver of the reality of that power. Contrary to the common claim that scientific analyses of society, both structural and systemic, provide a deeper understanding of the reality of power, in fact such analyses have not fully revealed the Minjung experiences. The Minjung experience power as its victims, not merely as objective scientists.

It is a fundamental principle in Minjung theology that the social biography (or story) of the Minjung reveals who they are in their persons and in their corporate body. Suffering and struggle is their prime reality, which is directly related to the reality of power. The reality of power is just as complex as are the experiences of the Minjung. The experience of the Minjung and the reality of power must each be understood as a whole.

Today the Minjung throughout the world face a complex situation of power that is local as well as global. The power complex has a certain socio-economic base, mingled with political organization and influence, and with religio-cultural values and influences as well as highly developed scientific and technological capacities. Power is never one-dimensional, but is a complex mixture of multi-dimensional factors. The Minjung experience the power of transnational corporations as well as the power of local and national economic powers; they live under the domination of the imperial powers, local and national ruling powers, and the combination of all of these. As for the powers of modern and traditional religions and cultures, the Minjung experience these in the form of technocracy as well as traditional "despotism."

This reality is felt acutely among the Minjung at the present historical juncture, with its radical global transition and uncertainty about the future. The powers have become conservative and reactive to changes that might jeopardize their interests. Beginning with the changes in Eastern Europe, the world is in the process of a "re-constellation" which is characterized by the breakdown of the cold war ideological polar structure, the realignment of the military powers, the reordering of the economic powers, and the rapid globalization of communication and cultural life.

The participation of the Minjung is being short-circuited in the vortex of these complex global power dynamics; their network is undercut in every direction, so that their struggle is difficult; and the violence of power against them grows more sophisticated day by day, intensifying their unrelieved sufferings.

The Minjung experience of economic power is not merely poverty, hunger and exploitation, but is the distortion of the very political economy for life. The modern industrial economy destroys and distorts life on earth. The people cannot participate meaningfully in the planning, production and distribution of their political economy, whether it is capitalist or socialist. The question of the economic life of the Minjung goes beyond the issue of class. The question is whether they enjoy a full life or their life is distorted. This involves ecological questions as well. The economic life of the Minjung should be based upon life protection and enhancement.

Social injustice against the Minjung is based upon social status differentiation, ethnic and racial discrimination, gender discrimination and other factors--all intertwined with the economic base of the society, although the relation between economic and social is not necessarily logical or mechanical. Social bonds by blood, by region, by nationality and religion are interrelated in a complex webwork. Social injustice cannot be reduced to the economic base of the society.

The political victimization of the Minjung is also very complex. Their basic human dignity is violated by the state structures and by the actions and procedures of government. Their rights of participation are curtailed, restricted and suppressed. The capitalist powers, be they liberal or authoritarian, limit and suppresses Minjung participation in political life. The socialist powers also prevent Minjung participation in political, cultural, social and economic life. Secret police operate in both capitalist and socialist states, to suppress Minjung participation.

The violence against the Minjung is not only physical but also economic, social, political and cultural; it is psychological and communal, corporate and spiritual. The victimization of the Minjung under oppressive powers has intensified as the exercise of power becomes more sophisticated. The rising tide of "people's powers from below" to confront the powers and principalities in all these various arenas, has brought new mechanisms of suppression by use of technocratic means.

The Minjung are not only deprived of access to science and technology in the industrial and post-industrial societies; but also they are suppressed by technocracy; and they are denied the cultural means to cope with the world information and communication order, now dominated by the global corporate powers. National traditions, religious traditions, and even cultural values are being harnessed and manipulated to suppress the Minjung as they confront the powers-that-be.

The emerging new constellations of powers and principalities are so complex that it would be illusory to try to analyze them in terms of structures and systems. The dynamics of this power is far too complex for such analytical calculation, though we might still have to rely upon this till we have better means to grasp the new dynamics of power. This power reality is not remote from the life of the Minjung; rather they experience it immediately in their everyday life.

Here we need to go beyond mere analyses of power contradictions: we have reach out to grasp the interconnectedness of powers in terms of time and history, in terms of space, locus and expanse, and dimension. Social theories have failed in the respect that social contradictions are either too simply interconnected according to logical or structural analyses or left unconnected to fall into fragmentation or reductionism. The stories of the Minjung as victims of power truthfully reveal the reality of power: this is a fundamental thesis. If any analysis, scientific or not, does not take into account the story of the victims of the powers, it is not a faithful account of those powers.

Political theories and ideologies are fundamentally justifications of the powers; they are not theories on the Sovereignty of the Minjung. Any theory for social transformation must include the fundamental question of the Sovereign Minjung, including how it is suppressed by the powers. The fundamental failure of Marxism is that it does not have an adequate theory of Minjung participation; and the failure of liberalism is that it has absolutized the individual self, turning it into the private corporate self, which is the core of its polity. Political liberalism has failed to establish Minjung Sovereignty against the private corporate self, such as the TNC.

A). The biblical stories of three victims which expose the reality of the dominant power.

One of the predominant Christological notion is that of THE SUFFERING MESSIAH. In KJV Luk 24:46 it is written: And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day and in KJV Act 3:18 it is said, But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

(1)The Hebrews under Pharaoh

The story of the Hebrew slaves exposes the despotic power of Pharaoh, and God makes political intervention in the political and economic affairs of the slave people; and the Mosses become a messianic figure in the context, who obeys the law of God. This is the first covenant framework.

And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which [are] in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.( KJV Exo 3:7 -8)

(2)The Minjung under the Davidic Arche

Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint [them] for himself, for his chariots, and [to be] his horsemen; and [some] shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and [will set them] to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters [to be] confectioneries, and [to be] cooks, and [to be] bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, [even] the best [of them], and give [them] to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put [them] to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day. (KJV 1Sa 8:9-18)

(3)The Suffering Servant under the Babylonian Empire

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, [there is] no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither [was any] deceit in his mouth.Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put [him] to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see [his] seed, he shall prolong [his] days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, [and] shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him [a portion] with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (KJV Isa 53:1-11.)

(4)The Crucified One under the Roman Empire
And the crowd said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And [Pilate] saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify [him], crucify [him]. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify [him]: for I find no fault in him. When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify [him], crucify [him]. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify [him]: for I find no fault in him. (KJV Joh 19:3-6)

II. Biblical Paradigm of the Dominant Power

DESPOTAI/ DIABOLOS/SATAN/DEVIL/ PHARAOH AND CAESAR , PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS along with the terms, EXOUSIA and ARCHE expresses the nature of the power in the Bible. This helps to understand the nature of power in the story of the Minjung:Exousia is power or authority, and Diabolosi she Prince of the World, self-appointed ruler of the world to injure the people, to cause the death of the people.

When the Sovereignty of God is not recognized, the powers become sovereign by themselves, and thus deny the Sovereignty of the Minjung. It is the devil that challenges the Sovereign Rule of God. The following references show that the Empires and despotic rulers are regarded devils, when they are against God:

KJV Deu 32:17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new [gods that] came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.

KJV Rev 18:2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

KJV Mat 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

KJV Act 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

KJV 2Ti 2:26 And [that] they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

KJV Heb 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

KJV 1Jo 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

III. The Soverignty of the Minjung under Doularchy

Phase I

The Covenant declares the Slaves to be the subjects of liberation in the story of the Exodus. The sovereignty of Yahweh is the denial of the Sovereignty of Pharaoh against Yahweh and over the Hebrews, thus opening a historical space for the sovereignty of the Minjung.

Phase II

Covenant Code in Tribal Confederacy

Phase III

Davidic Monarchy under the Covenant Code.

Prophetic Movement against the powers and principalities.

Phase IV

Israel as the EBED YAHWEH

The Suffering Servant reveals the Justice (of God) to All Nations.

The Vindicated(Isaiah 50:4-9)

Phase V

Jesus as the Doulos or Diakonos of All

Mark 9:35

Mark 10: 42-45

Jesus' practice of Servanthood

John 13:1 ff (Jesus' washing the disciples' feet)

Phil. 2: 7--The form of Doulos(Morphee Doulou)

IV. Participation under Doularche in Common BondŠ

Doularchy and Koinonia(Bond): The Minjung in Corporate Bond is the key element of Messiaship of Jesus Christ as it is in the suffering at the cross. In Gal. 3:26-29, Being One Body in Christ who is Inter-linking Faithfulness(covenant) to the people of God a Christ-eccelsial reality. Here God's Sovereignty is for Sovereignty of Minjung, debunking the arche of the diabolos. Power does not have any independent ontological status; it is non-being.

Doularchy is the fundamental structure of Messiaship as it is expressed in the following:

In KJV Mar 9:35 and 10:45, it is stated, And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, [the same] shall be last of all, and servant of all. But Jesus called them [to him], and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

In the decisive confessional statement of the early church, Chrsit the Servant is dramatically presented:

In KJV Phi 2:5 ff, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth; And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Only the Minjung can erect the authority to rule; the Minjung is the Sovereign; and the Arche is Doulos. Doulos makes Arche. (Servant makes master.) Doulos are in Bond to set up Exousia. This issue must be discussed in the context of ddebates of Power in Feminist Theology such as Discussion of Baalism) and in debate in What is the polity of Feminist politics as well as Power in Liberation Theology (Taking of State Power) and What is the polity of liberation politics in Latin America?

The political economy of the Minjung is mutual Servanthood and a mutual Bond that makes them Sovereign, and makes Arche into Doulos: Doularche, which guarantees the Minjung's participation as Sovereign-in-Bond (Covenant). This is radically different from social contract theories


The People Are Subjects of Religious And Cultural Life. The religio-cultural life of the peoples of Asia has a long, diverse and complex history. Among them have risen the great civilizations of Mesopotamia, Indas-Gangis and Hwanghwa; and the great world religions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, as well as rich Minjung religions, have permeated the religio-cultural life of the Asian peoples. Their communities have been fertile grounds for new religions and cultural movements, and their history is filled with religious-cultural encounters and conflicts of all sorts.

Being closely intertwined with the historical developments of civilizations and religions, the stories of the Asian peoples are rich and complex. Religions have constituted the core of the lives and communities of the people; cultures have expressed and transmitted their values, forms, styles and tastes; and civilizations have formed through the long accumulations of the peoples' religio-cultural achievements and failures. In short, the life and history of the peoples of Asia has been the womb of many great religions and civilizations, including Christianity.

We define religio-culture as that aspect of earthly human existence on earth which is created by human action. In fact all aspects of human existence are closely related to the religio-cultural life. Even the so-called natural aspect can be differentiated from religio-cultural life, but it cannot be separated from it; natural history and religio- cultural history are mutually and closely intertwined with each other. Political economy, political and social life are included in religio-cutural life, which is the all-pervasive dimension of human existence. This is the broadest definition of religio-culture. Religions, arts and literary creations by human acts are only one aspect of human culture, although they represent the flowers of the culture. Civilization is the dimension of religio-culture which, through its long process of historical cumulation and geographical expansion, constitutes the matrix of community life of the peoples; its inner, organic nexus crosses the boundaries of human communities, organizing them into a large-scale constellation.

It is the fundamental reality, from the people's perspective, that throughout history, religio-cultural institutions have often been dominated by the powerful; their norms, contents, styles, communication and transmutation, have been controlled by the powerful elite. Those who dominate the religio-cultural institutions have often dictated the cultural life of the people. The power elites have manipulated the people's religio-cultural practices for the maintenance and expansion of their own power. On the other hand, the religio-cultural elites are often themselves the power elites in the society.

Religio-cultural histories as well have been dictated and written by the religio-political and socio-cultural power elites. Yet it is the people who are the true bearers of religious and cultural experiences and creativity, since religions and cultures belong to them. When a people has had a common religio-cultural heritage over a long period of time, it forms a nation. Nations are peoples with distinct religio-cultural heritages; and the people as nations have interacted among themselves throughout history. World history is a history of ethnic, national and civilizational interactions and encounters. As Arnold Toynbee tried to show, the people (religio-cultural proletariat) are true creators of religio-cultural "mutations" in the process of cultural encounters, for they are the true bearers of the experiences of interaction and encounter among religions, cultures and civilizations in world history.*

Our thesis here is that a true religio-cultural history is faithfully known through the immediate experiences of the people, which they tell in the form of stories, including religio-cultural forms. The true religio-cultural story of civilizations is told through the people's victimization under the powers that dominate their religions and cultures. The people's religio-cultural life story, however, cannot completely controlled by the powerful. The people as victims of the historical religions and cultures provide the key to our understanding of the real history and world of religio-cultural experiences.**

In their religio-cultural struggles, the people do not remain as passive objects and helpless victims of the dominant culture, but positively affirm their cultural subjecthood. They speak in their own languages, express their feelings in their own style, create their own cultural forms, and establish their own norms. The people are creators, preservers, transformers and fulfillers of their religion and culture. Against cultural domination, theysustain their own cultural identity and are subjects of their own cultural life. The people struggle to be subjects of their cultural universe, with their spiritual self, thinking self(cogito), vital self(psyche), feeing self, and perceiving self all forming integral parts of their subjecthood, enabling them to experience and create their own religio-cultural realities.

This means that the religious and cultural experiences of the people in terms of new religions and new cultural movements, and also in terms of religious and cultural "deviations" from the norm, may be very instructive for understanding the overall story of victimized people's religious and cultural experiences. It is in this sense that our new understanding of the peoples' religio-cultural movements in struggle against the dominant cultures, religions and civilizations is of utmost importance. The life story of the people is indeed that of religio-cultural struggle against the dominant religious and cultural powers.

We will use the terms "culture" and "religio-culture" interchangeably, for they constitute an integral whole in Asia.

The cultural elites regard the cultural life and struggle of the people as vulgar and crude; they impose their own culture, setting it up as the values and norms of the society. But the people religiously and culturally resist such imposition; they create new religious beliefs and new cultural values, attuned to their own needs, life and vision.

For example, Shamanism, Buddhism and Confucianism are used by the power elites of Korea and other parts of East Asia to rule and subjugate the people and dictate their cultural life. This is a central aspect of the religious history of the area. But orginally and fundamentally, religious beliefs are systematic human acts of struggle against the power elites which dominate the people. The people are the subjects of believing, in the ultimate reality, and the religious culture is originally their creation. Religio-cultural reality can be created only when the people are subjects of their own feelings, consciousness and spirit.

Throughout history the power elites have monopolized the religio-cultural media, for media control is the most effective way of dominating religio-cultural life. The languages, letters and characters, printing tools, artistic and literary media, and modern printed and electronic media are all dominated by the powerful elites of the society and the world. But the people are the subjects of speech, language, and all other expressions of their religio-cultural experiences; and they resist the cultural domination that is wrought by the control and monopoly of the media.


The world has been in religion-cultural turmoil during the last two centuries, as the Western civilization has encroached into, penetrated, destroyed and dominated non-Western religions, cultures and civilizations on a global scale. The process of Western religious and cultural domination has been experienced by the world's peoples as corrosion, an "external virus," Western imposition and control(A. Toynbee, The World and the West). The spirit of the people is broken, and their religious veins and cultural sinews are injured. They experience religio-cultural death everywhere in this chaotic wasteland. The people have become the victims of the religio-cultural domination of the West.

Such cultural violence may take the form of cultural deprivation through the monopoly of cultural institutions by the power elite of a given civilization, or cultural repression through the arbitrary imposition of the values and norms of the powerful. The people may wander and become lost in a cultural desert. They may lose their cultural subjectivity, or it may be mutilated by the dominant cultural process. Paulo Freire calls this situation "cultural silence".

The modern Western culture has been both a blessing and a curse to life in the human and natural world. Modern Western science and technology has dominated the world, functioning as an essential part of the giant transnational corporations, modern war machines, government organizations and communications media. Science and technology as they constitute the central dynamics of modern societies in the world, may be called technocracy, which is the social process in which the scientific and technological elites play dominant roles(Kim Yong-Bock, Messiah and Minjung:CCA, 1992). The people are victims of this technocracy, as well as its beneficiaries.



The particular context of global market about which we want to speak is the field of "cultural war" between power and people, waged through political propaganda, commercial advertisements, the educational process, the public media, and information technology. This cultural war takes place on national and global levels, assuming the form of ideological or propaganda wars. Sometimes it works to domesticate the minds and desires of consumers, inducing them to buy the goods and services that are produced and offered, in order to control and conquer the market. The educational system acts to establish hegemony over the minds of students in the name of socialization. Traditional cultural processes and religious institutions are also mobilized to serve the causes of power. But the most important aspect of this cultural war is manifested in the modern mass communication media such as newspapers, wire services, radio and television.

The ideological battles between the two superpowers have been fought through mutual political propaganda (communism vs capitalism), through ideological inculcation in formal and non-formal education systems, public media and information processes,and often through religious institutions and practices. Now this ideological war seems to be lessening; but power conflicts, violent or otherwise, will continue to involve semi-ideological battles for legitimacy and justification of power. In the communist societies, which previously had complete control over the propaganda process, the effectiveness of the ideological control has recently come into question. Societies which allow a liberal press have a facade of free speech, while in fact those in power are controlling the media and education in highly effective ways.

Dictatorships around the world have sought to control the speech, thoughts, feelings and perceptions of the people. Today the process of control by power (economic, political and cultural) is done through hi-tech communication and information media, which is intensive and brutally effective.

The economic life of the people is also very much affected by the cultural process of communication and information. Decisions on economic policies involve fundamental cultural struggle in terms of economic philosophies and objectives, including economic growth and distribution. The most direct way in which the economic life of the people is swayed is through commercial advertisements in the communications media, which are the chief means of marketing. Media advertising is the main stimulator of consumerism, which bends the minds of the people with enticements to cheap materialism and economic hedonism.

Moreover, information has become a commodity and service in economic transactions, for information is both power and resource. The information and communication network encloses economic and socio-cultural life as well, and the powerful expand and sustain this network on a global scale, dominating the life of the people.

There are several inter-related networks that operate globally. The political, military, police intelligence and information network of governments; the economic information network of transnational corporate powers; the global media; and the religious-cultural networks of world religions wield powerful influence over information and communication throughout the world.

The term "international information and communication order" is a misnomer reflecting the power reality of the present communication process nationally and internationally, although the McBride report has clearly shown that this "order" is dominated by the powerful, that is, the Western media powers.

[We will discuss three inter-related issues in dealing with the subject of communication as it dominates the religio-cultural life of the world today. The first issue is communication and information in relation to the people as subject of history and in relation to the powers that dominate the people. The second issue is a theological reflection on communication. Third is the issue of fundamental principles that will guide the practice of communication and information action.]

The McBride Report disclosed the domination of the international communication and information order by the western media, which are cultural manifestations of the western powers. The breakdown of the socialist states as well has been accompanied by the process of their subversion by the western media; and the Gulf War has given us an example in which even war and peace have been effected through the media by the Western powers.

Global communication has become technetronics-intensive, and increasingly encircles the life of the people.The most serious consequence of this communication and information revolution is the subjugation of the spirit, perception and will of the people to the dictates of the dominant powers. Human subjectivity, the core engine of human life, is the final territory being conquered through this cultural process. The western development of modern science and technology in the past has excluded the human subject from the epistemological world; now its advancement allows the powers to dominate human subjectivity for the domestication of life itself.

The dominant western political power, especially the U.S., with its pervasive network of information industries, wire services, satellite communications and so on, interlocks with the Asian national communications media and subverts these on political, economic and cultural levels, producing a powerful impact upon the peoples of Asia.

The giant transnational corporations use the public media to dominate and control the market, to create arbitrary needs among consumers resulting in a deep sense of deprivation, and to coverup the ugly image of the corporate powers. There is no marketing without the media; the advertising of products and services fosters unsound economic thinking, often providing false information and images of products. This process distorts sound economic values and promotes "cheap and pragmatic materialism". The media serves the corporate powers as a techno-structure to carry out the total planning strategy of profit-maximization by controlling marketing as well as production. Without such subservient media the corporate strategy of total planning would not be possible. The people as workers and consumers are molded according to the plan of the economic powers in and through the media; the people have lost their subjectivity in production as well as in the market; they have become victims of the distorted information imposed on them, and have an inverted self-image implanted in their consciousness, by the media.

The Asian national media, under the influence of the Western-dominated global information and communication order, have subverted and are gradually replacing Asian cultural values and lifestyles with Western ones. Asian cultural identity is being suppressed. Religious and cultural heritage are disparaged as pre- or anti-modern (meaning anti-Western); Asian languages, symbols and images are suppressed and replaced by Western ones. This process causes profound cultural dissatisfaction among the people, even to the point of unhealthy national and cultural romanticism and nostalgia. The people are being uprooted by the mass media, with its heavy infusions of Western culture in the present international information and communication order.

Such cultural corrosion, subversion and even "genocide" are brought about by the cultural subjugation of the people through the western-dominated global media, and this is inevitable, given the inherent character of the present global information order, which excludes people's participation, dialogues and interactions.

The communication and information media create a strange world out of an arbitrary combination and superficial construction of colors, images and languages that are simplified and separated from reality. The media create a perceptual world that has no relation to the real world and is even in opposition to it. This world of illusion is permeating the minds and hearts of the people everywhere.

[The peoples in Asia are victimized by power militarily, politically, socially, economically and culturally; and the international media networks, as the cultural tool of domination, play a central role in this process.]

Media stereotyping of the people's movements, including the ecumenical movement, has been standard practice in the low- intensity battles of the cold-war era, particularly in the global market place, where communication is the major instrument of war.

In the media's low intensity strategy against the people and their communities, the people of low social class or status are stereotyped as second-class humans in religious and cultural terms, as well as in socio-economic terms. Low and outcast people are perpetually condemned to such traditional and reinforced stereotypes, mutilating their human dignity and subjectivity.

The stories of the people in Asia, past and present, are full of old and new stereotypes. Modern examples are that the Asian people are "aesthetic, contemplative and intuitive," meaning incapable of rational thinking; that Asians are prone to authoritarianism and incapable of democracy. The poor and oppressed are stereotyped as lazy or violent; outcast people are dirty and ignorant; the ethnic, national, racial, religious and cultural minorities are subject to old and new stereotypes in their own situations as political or social separatists. The Christian west has its prejudices and stereotypes against persons who believe in Asian religions. These false images and stereotypes are powerfully and subtly projected through the global communications media.

In all these areas, the media role in the final analysis is to support the powerful in the final analysis and victimize the peoples of Asia and other parts of the world including the West.


The people are cultural actors, spiritual souls responding to an ultimate reality, moral and ethical actors discerning and doing good and evil, aesthetic perceivers appreciating beauty. They are singers of songs, poets, painters and actors of dramas. The people are the original creators and sustainers of cultures and religions, which arise out of their primal experiences.

Cultural processes such as information and communication are not merely the objective order of society and community, but penetrate the soul of the whole human being. The battleground is the consciousness, mind, heart and spirit of the human person as well as the community. Communication and information must be "of the people, by the people and for the people," that is, the people are the subject of the communication. When information and communication are dominated by the powerful, the people as the subject of communication are violated.

The most original form of communication is the telling and hearing of stories in the community of the people. In the story form, the teller and hearer are subjects, not objects. Communication is the sharing of stories of the people among themselves, and as such stories are accumulated and interwoven, the cultures of the people and their communities are formed. No other form can replace this original mode of communication; other orms can only supplement it.

In the original story of the people, all the powers and authorities take the position of antagonist, with the people as the protagonist. The people are subjects of the story's content, as well as being its communicators. The traditional religious and cultural stories of the people, for example the story of the Hebrews in the Exodus and its counterparts or equivalents in Asian religions, are concrete manifestations of the original story of the people. For this reason, the religio-cultural stories are co-opted by the powerful and are twisted into authoritarian stories in which the people are turned into objects of subjugation.

But the people have past memories and future imagination as well as immediate experiences of perceiving, knowing and acting out the present reality. This enables them to be cultural actors, and thereby to resist cultural domination and repression, through their various aesthetic, artistic, musical and literary expressions, and their stories and dramas. Ultimately the people's resistance takes the form of new religious/cultural movements, counter and alternative to the dominant cultures and civilizations.

In the context East Asia, the T'aiping Tienkuo Movement of 19 century and the May 4th Movement of 20 century in China, and the Tonghak Minjung Movement of 19th century and the March 1st Independence Movement of 20th century in Korea [and the Japanese counter parts] are paradigmatic examples of cultural resistance and transformation movements by the people.

Messianic Paradigm for Cultural life ?

"The Gospel and culture" is the greatest theological issue of global Christianity today. Both Western and Eastern Christianity have long been captivated by the cultures of domination. Of course this statement should be refined and qualified in terms of the historical development of the relations between Christianity and culture in Western and Eastern Christianity. Richard Niebuhr's formulation gives some indication of this qualification, but he has never treated the subject of Gospel and culture in a global dimension. In Western missiological

thinking, the theme of Christ against (so-called non-Christian) culture has dominated mission history. Hendrik Kraemer represents this thinking. We feel that this theological framework is West-centered and cannot properly treat the fundamental problem of Western cultural domination. This theology of an unduly negative attitude towards indigenous religio-cultural traditions. The result of this negative cultural attitude is that the churches remain as a sort of Western institution and experience a certain cultural "poverty". (We must examine the liturgy and theology of the churches, which contain this theology against culture.)

Now we have alternative theologies of culture. Indigenization of the churches is one theological program; others are theology of dialogue with other religions, and theology of religions.

Our position is that theology of culture is not merely a question of indigenous hermeneutics of the biblical texts and translating theological concepts into the religio-cultural categories of the people. It is not merely a question of mutual enrichment between Christian religion and other world religions; and it is not even merely a question of theological interpretation of religions to discern God's "hands and feet." Theology of culture is the question of cultural liberation of the people for their cultural freedom and creativity and their cultural identity and community. It is a matter of the cultural struggle of the people for their cultural subjectivity and cultural life together.

A Biblical Paradigm of Cultural Struggle of the People of God

The creation story is a story of cultural struggle between the people of God and the power of the Babylonian Empire (Christianity in World History: Theodore van Lueewen). The culture of Marduk and Tiamat is the despotic religio-cultural domination of the Babylonian Empire; and the culture of Life and Garden is the culture of the people of God, who resist the culture of "darkness and chaos." This cultural struggle of the people of God is the same as their struggle for the culture of their covenant with God against the culture of the Egyptian Pharaoh. The culture of Baalism surrounded the people of God; and the culture of the imperial powers of Egypt, Babylon and Assyria encroached against the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

The prophetic movement is a cultural movement to purify and transform the illicitly mixed and distorted cultural forms threatening the community of God's people. It is a movement of cultural resistance against the culture of despotic domination with its god of Power. The cultural struggle of the people of God is to establish the faithful covenant community in which the glory, justice and peace of God, and the life of the people of God are fully realized and expressed in religio-cultural forms as well as in political and socio-economic terms. The worship, poetry, wisdom and prophetic pronouncements are religio-cultural actions and manifestations of the culture of the people of God.

When God's people were completely dominated by the imperial powers, and their independent cultural life was abrogated and assimilated, they had visions of the Messianic Reign. The prophetic visions and dreams of seers were precisely a cultural struggle against "genocide" by the imperial culture of violence and death. The apocalyptic movement was the struggle of the people of God for the culture of life, against the culture of death, and this struggle created the culture of the Messianic Reign of life, justice and peace.

The movement of Jesus for the Reign of God is a combined struggle against the culture of the Roman and Greek imperial powers and principalities, and against the encroaching cultural pollution in the life of God's people. Jesus' movement has connections with the prophetic and apocalyptic movements; indeed, it is the culmination of the cultural movements of the people of God. In the life, ministry, cross and resurrection of Jesus, we see the Paradigm of cultural struggle. The story of Jesus' temptation manifests the contours of his struggle, and his pronouncements and teachings, his healing and care for the poor are all part and parcel of the Great Cultural Movement of Jesus the Messiah.

The Pentecostal event of the Spirit shows the emergence of a cultural movement for new covenant community under the domination of the Roman Empire. The story of the early church shows us the great cultural movement of Christian communities which transformed the culture of the Roman Empire. Jesus' cultural movement for the Reign of God is based on the vision of the Messianic Reign, as manifested in Revelation 21 and 22. This is a cultural struggle against the culture of violence and death of the Roman Empire.

Biblical and Theological Affirmations on Culture and Communication

God has created humans as cultural subjects, not objects. God is the Lord of people's cultural life, and the Minjung are subjects in this life. The people of God are the people of the covenant community, in which culture flourishes. This community is a network of culture for the life of the covenant people. Still, religio-cultural realities are subjugated by the powers that be; and theologically speaking, this is a result of original sin, the human rebellion against God which betrays the true religious-cultural life.


Asian Christology affirms nations with their religious and cultural heritage. The biblical notion of nations and languages or tongues needs to be understood positively as it is amply demonstrated in the Bible:

In KJV En 10:5 the gentile nations were affirmed clearly: By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. And Abraham's role is also understood in relation to nations: in KJV En 17:4 and 5, it is written, As for me, behold, my covenant [is] with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

In KJV Psa 22:27 it is more explicit to affirm nations: All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. In KJV Psa 22:28, it is sung, For the kingdom [is] the Lord's: and he [is] the governor among the nations. Also in KJV Psa 57:9, I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations. The following Psalms are affirmative of nations:

In KJV Psa 67:4 O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah. In KJV Psa 72:11 Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him. In KJV Psa 72:17 His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and [men] shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed. In KJV Psa 86:9 All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. In KJV Psa 108:3 I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.

Prophets also have basically affirmed nations so long as they are not subservient to the devils, that is, the powers and principalities that be rebellious against God: In KJV Isa 66:18 For I [know] their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. In KJV Jer 1:5 Jeremiah find mission among nations: Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, [and] I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. In KJV Jer 1:10, he said, See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant. In KJV Jer 3:17 At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. In KJV Jer 4:2 And thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.

In KJV Mat 28:19 , Jesus himself gives the ultimate status to nations: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: In KJV Gal 3:8, Paul, too, affirms gentile nations: And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, [saying], In thee shall all nations be blessed. In KJV Rev 2:26 nations participate in the Messianic Reign, And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: In KJV Rev 7:9 it is stated, After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

This is a remarkably different picture of the Western theologies' position on so-called gentile cultures.


The Bible is the book of communication among the people who call themselves the people of God or the people of the Messiah. Therefore, we should turn to the Bible for a paradigm of communication among the people.The Hebrew (HAP'IRU) people and their descendants lived under empires throughout the ages: such empires as ancient Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Greece and Rome, and their vassals. This meant that they lived under the imperial communication order of the ancient empires.

In the classical account of the Tower of Babel, the imperial building project required, among other things, a moon-lingual communication (command) system. This meant the suppression of the languages and cultures of all nations and peoples for their integration into one imperial language: the language and communication of imperial domination. This paradigm of communication under imperial power basically holds true in all imperial situations, even today.

The counter paradigm to such communication is the Biblical communication of the people of God. When they were filled with the Spirit, the imperial communication paradigm gave way to a new model of communication as God's people, which is illustrated in the Pentecost experience. At Pentecost, people of diverse cultures all spoke and heard the message of God in their own languages, and this event marked the creation of new koinonia (PARTICIPATION), new household (OIKONOMIA), new identity as a people of God (NEW CULTURE), and new community(NEW SOLIDARITY).

Thus, the movement of the Spirit means freedom and liberation of the people from the oppressive languages and communication of the ruling powers. The Spirit creates liberating communication, overcoming cultural domination and standing against the "legal" communication of domination.

The Bible consists of several genres of communication: it is communication among the people of God throughout their history. It is a story of the people. It is an account of events. It contains various forms and contents of communication, the first being God's promise of a new future and its vision over against the imperial order. The story of Creation (Genesis 1 and 2), the Vision of the Messianic Reign (Isaiah 11, Rev. 21 and 22) and other apocalyptic visions belong to the same category. The content of this communication of the vision is the Messanic Reign in which Life and Shalom will prevail over against the power and violence of death.

This vision of the future is deeply rooted in the Exodus story of liberation of the Hebrew people from the imperial despotism of ancient Egypt. The Hebrew slaves cried out in their toil, agony and suffering, and their God Yahweh listened to their cries and knew their predicament. God communicated the message of liberation to the people through Moses and his company, against the Pharaoh who refused to release them, and thus the Exodus event materialized in history. This vision, manifested clearly and decisively in the message and movement of Jesus among the people, is named by him: the Reign or Realm of God.

Jesus' message about the Realm of God is indeed the good news--the Gospel--for the Galilean Minjung. His message, teaching and actions, whole life and death and resurrection are the ultimate communication of God among the people who are subjugated under the powers of death. The people of God then become the bearers of the message of God's Reign--the Gospel--to all nations.

Secondly, communication in the early community of the people of God took the form of the Covenant Code and the Torah (meaning "wisdom and guide"),both of which originated from the Exodus. The people of God were liberated by God and were given the wisdom of the covenant code to prevent the encroachment of Pharaoh's ideology and religion of oppression, and to undercut the vicious bond of slavery and protect the poor, the oppressed, the weak and alienated. Literally, the Torah of the covenant is the living Word of God spoken among the people and indwelling in their hearts. The Wisdom's are an integral part of this form of communication.

The Old Testament prophetic movement is a third form of Biblical communication among the people of God. Under the kingships which were often in alliance with--or under the influence of--the surrounding imperial or despotic powers with their domineering communication systems. The prophets spoke out for justice. The classical example is the confrontation of Elijah's message with King Ahab and Jezebel the Baalist over the destiny of Naboth, the steward of the vineyard. The prophetic movements, led by major and minor prophets, were movements to communicate the message of God's justice, judgement and promise of shalom among the people, who had become subservient to the ideology and religion of the despotic kingdoms and dominant empires.

Fourth, priestly practices and movements are the message of restoration, reconcilation and healing of the community of the people of God, sharing the message of shalom. Rites of sacrifice and worship are the form of communication which restores broken relationships, injured bodies and communities divided by hostility and enmity. The Psalms are an integral part of this communication. As depicted in the Letter to the Hebrews, the Prince of Shalom Himself is the sacrificial lamb and at the same time the priest who presides over the sacrifice of reconciliation, forging a new covenant of shalom. This is an act of communicating the peace of God among the people who have become the victims of violence and wars among nations and powers.

The Bible is the book of communication among the people of God. In it the people are the partners of God, who communicates with them through various media, channels and modes of communication. Often the people are hardened in their hearts and refuse to be communication partners with God and with each other. They see but do not see. They hear but do not listen. They are taught but do not understand. This is because they are enslaved, in their hearts, minds and spirits, to the dominant communication of the powers-that-be.

But Biblical communication is the event of the Word among the people, to restore them as partners of communication with God and therefore with one another. God's message is heard, understood, and becomes the spirit and the power of the people to overcome the power of communication that enslaves and objectifies

Biblical communication builds new, faithful relations between God and the people, and among the people: new bonds of solidarity in place of domination, enslavement and enmity. Solidarity is the covenant of faithful relations among the people, that is, the foundation of humane community.


The people as subjects of history have been struggling throughout the centuries to overcome the dominating communication and information processes. They have created their own ways of communication, ranging from stories in oral traditions to folk art and music, from popular histories to religious and cultural sysmbolism. The history of popular communication of the people is not well investigated, just as their cultural history is not written from their own perspectives. Traditionally, the people's communication processes are suppressed by those of the powerful rulers, who have controlled the message and media through the ruling elites and the established cultural and religious institutions. The people's communication could not be completely suppressed, however. People have asserted their subjectivity in communication through ingenious and creative ways. The rise and development of people's movements have usually been accompanied by new and creative communication processes, which often are closely associated with popular religio-cultural communities.

The original sacred books of people's religious communities have been rediscovered as new ways of communicating new messages among the people. The stories and writings of the T'aiping movement in China and the Tonghak in Korea and similar movements in Asian countries are manifestations of new people's communication paradigms. The Bible is the best example.

The main feature of such communication of and by the people is direct participation in the communication process and the immediacy of the message .Another characteristic is its bonding of a new and liberating community, with the holistic solidarity of the people. This implies three fundamental characteristics of genuine communication: immediate participation, solidarity and liberation.


We regard that the two foundations of the household of God are people's participation and their solidarity. The five columns standing upon these foundations are justice, human dignity, peace, creative identity and life. We seek to discern these structural elements from Biblical communication in the context of the present global order of communication and information.

We have already indicated that it is the people of God whom the sovereign God takes as sovereign partner of covenant and communication, not the powers-that-be. The powers subjugate the people to their ideology and religion of domination, the condition of their participation. We have recognized that the concept of the free individual subject in the liberal democracy is precarious and illusory in communication, just as in all other areas of power relations. Therefore, the people's participation should be more than the individual freedom of liberal democracy. Participation should mean direct, immediate and effective access by the people, as much as possible, to the process of deciding and relating. Jesus made the people directly accessible to the Realm of God through his communication of the Good News and through the people's faith which was evoked by his message.

The people as sovereign partners have entered newly into the covenant with God, breaking all their enslaving bonds to the dominating powers. The sharing of new bonds of koinonia, love, justice, peace, hope and life has been communicated through the crucifixion of Jesus as the Sacrificial Lamb of the New Covenant. This communication is re-enacted in the sacraments of the Baptism and the Holy Supper, both of which are symbolic manifestation of the solidarity bond, forged among the people through Jesus their Messiah.

The Galatians were advised by Paul about the fundamental truth of the Gospel in Baptism. In his letter to them, he declares that there is neither chosen nor gentile, neither free nor slave, neither male nor female and so on. Communication is a cultural act binding the people together as one body, one household, one nation and one people. It is a cultural act which forges a new covenant among the people.

The people in this covenant are the stewards of the economic household (OIKONOMIA). We have seen the centrally planned command economies of the socialist states. One of the chief causes of their problem may have been the lack of people's participation in economic planning and management, as well as distribution. Many third world economies are also centrally planned and controlled according to the dictates of the IMF and IBRD. The giant global corporations are highly centralized as planning techno-structures. They neither recognize the OIKONOMIA as the common household nor allow the people's participation. The people are relegated to be the role of objects of big projects, and communication instructs them to follow and obey the rules of the dominant economic powers, both states and corporate entities. Communication should awaken the people to self-realization as as autonomous economic subjects, as the sovereign stewards of their own life. Self-reliance is not the message of the rich to the dependent poor; but people's claiming of their sovereignty over their own household (OIKONOMIA). The people must participate directly in planning and management, in production and distribution, and in the market. People as sovereign users of resources must participate in communication(advertising) to resist being domesticated as obedient consumers. People must make direct interventions in the market to fight domination and monopoly, since the political process does not work in this direction. It is essential that people participate in economic communication in order to be economically sovereign over their own life.

The celebration of the rise of liberal democracy in the third world and in Eastern Europe could prove to be a deceptive political ritual. The political reality is that those people have become more powerless than before to decide on their own political life and destiny. The information and communication work of the intelligence agencies is more efficient and pervasive than ever, and it takes the place of forcible means. The powers rely heavily upon intelligence, the information process, and communication: from ideological propaganda to political campaign, from war management to character assassination of enemies, and from political domestication to political control of the people. Information and communication are being used as a primary means to achieve the political objective of domination and control over the people.

The people are deprived of their own means of communication and knowing (information), and thus become objects of the communication process. They must regain their subjectivity as sovereign partners and participants in communication, in society and in the world. This demands people's participation in the existing communication media; it also demands counter communication networks to fight the existing information process. In addition, it is necessary to strengthen the people's communication network as an alternative communication order that promotes participation and solidarity linkages throughout the world, across all the barriers and boundaries. Thus, communication and information with people's participation may be an important way to attain their political self-hood, for such communication can overcome the domestication and fragmentation of human beings and their community.

The communication and information process that is dominated by the powerful creates violent conflicts on the social psychological level as well as on cultural levels. It accentuates and fuels cultural, social and political conflicts in many nations, when they serve the interests of the dominant powers. Racial, ethnic, religio-cultural and communal conflicts are created through manipulation of the communication and information process, when even the powerful need such conflicts weaken their enemies. Above all, the powers wage small- and large-scale cultural battles and wars, to destroy their enemies, physically, religio-culturally and spiritually.

The Biblical paradigm of communication is characterized by peace-making, reconciling and enemy-loving. It is the communication of the Prince of Peace, who became the victim of cultural and religious violence of the Roman Empire and its allies. The vision of the Messianic Reign, depicted in the 11th chapter of the Prophet Isaiah, is the real vision of peace that has been transmitted to the people of God throughout history.

In the present changing military alliances and global security setup, there is clear danger of intensified violence along the lines of race, ethnicity, religio-cultural and socio-economic divisions as well as political and military conflicts. It is no wonder that the communication and information process has become arena of cultural wars and battles. Communication and information are used as low intensity conflict strategies against the religio-cultural forces as well as social and political movements that seek and struggle for liberation for justice, peace and life.

In the process of the encroachment of Western powers and their culture into Asia, the people are being denied their own cultural roots; their cultural self-determination and identity are eroded to the extent that their community is devoid of cultural life. Herbert Marcuse called this internal cultural situation of the globally expanding technocratic civilization "one dimensionalization"; Soelle calls it apathy and others call it a "cultural wasteland." Modern hi-tech communication and information processes ultimately injure beyond recovery the cultures of the peoples in Asia, Africa and Latin America; it is a kind of cultural genocide.

The world that God has blessed is a world of many races and nations with different cultures and religious traditions. The Messianic Reign will be a gathering of all nations with their own cultures and religions in solidarity and harmony. The nations will speak their own languages and share their experiences and cultures through their own communication. The extremism of nationalistic, ethnic and religious communal conflicts is rising these days due to their suppression by powerful cultures and groups. But cultural identity and abundance is an integral part of human community. Communication and information must promote the creative abundance of cultures and strengthen the cultural and ethnic identities of peoples and races, without being exclusive. Today no society can be wholesome without allowing the self-determination of racial, ethnic and religio-cultural minorities. Communication must be understood as cultural koinonia, in which all the cultures interact creatively to enrich and fulfill each other. Communication must be understood as a cultural feast of the peoples.

The koinonia of life extends beyond the human community. Communication which is rooted in the koinonia of life means the sharing of life by all in heaven, on the earth and below the earth; the sharing of common perceptions about the reality of life and the threat of death. This is communication among living beings-- quite different from perceptions gained through abstract images and symbols. Living beings are in communion with each other and thus communicate each other. Communication thus should be a koinonia which enhances and enriches life.

The modern communications media separate human life from the reality of life and place it in a deadly artificial cultural environment. Our children live in cultural boxes that are manufactured arbitrarily by the communication media. They do not have real life, which is full of tears, lamentation, and "HAN" (a deep sense of justice rising in people's hearts, when they are wronged in history), as well as joy and happiness.

Today communication must touch the living reality, which is full of agonizing toil and grass-smelling freshness. In the Orient there is a saying that KI (active life energy) is communicated among living creatures. It is like the Spirit that is the breath of life in the creation.

Communication inter-connects and inter-penetrates and stimulates interactions among all living things. Communication binds together the five columns of justice, human dignity, peace, creative identity and life in its network of participation and solidarity in humane community. As such it is the most crucial element of cultural action for the development of the people's abundant life.

The interconnectedness in the people's vision, analyses, goals and strategies is expressed as a network of solidarity linkages of their participatory movements. This may be a new paradigm for a future ecumenical movement.




KJV Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

KJV Act 3:6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

KJV Act 4:26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

KJV Act 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

KJV Act 26:23 That Christ should suffer, [and] that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

KJV Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

KJV Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

KJV Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

KJV Rom 5:11 And not only [so], but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

KJV Rom 5:17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

KJV Rom 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

KJV Rom 6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

KJV Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

KJV Rom 8:10 And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.

KJV Rom 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together.

KJV 1Co 1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

KJV 1Co 4:10 We [are] fools for Christ's sake, but ye [are] wise in Christ; we [are] weak, but ye [are] strong; ye [are] honourable, but we [are] despised.

KJV 1Co 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

KJV 1Co 10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

KJV Gal 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

KJV Gal 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

KJV Eph 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

KJV Eph 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him:

KJV Eph 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

KJV Col 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:

KJV Col 1:27 To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

KJV Col 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all.

KJV 1Ti 2:5 For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

KJV Heb 9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

KJV 1Pe 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

KJV 1Pe 2:6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

KJV 1Pe 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe [he is] precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

KJV 1Pe 2:8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, [even to them] which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

KJV 1Pe 2:9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

KJV 1Pe 5:14 Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace [be] with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.

KJV Rev 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

KJV Rev 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

KJV Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

KJV Rev 22:21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with you all. Amen. 

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