I. Sharing of the Good News:
God Is in Faithful Solidarity with All Peoples
According to our Christian faith, all the peoples of the world are to
enter into covenant solidarity, that is, a solid, strong, faithful relationship with God.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate communication of Gods faithfulness toward all human
beings. The coming of the Spirit creates the miracle of communication among nations. The
Church, therefore, becomes the communication center spreading the Good News among all
The task of mission today can be summarized as the sharing of the Good
News with all peoples in the faithful relationship which we call solidarity. There are,
however, many barriers preventing the Good News from being shared in solidarity.
The existing economic structures have prevented the justice of God from
being shared. Political ideologies have separated people from each other so that they
cannot share the peace of Jesus Christ. Social, ethnic and racial injustices have
obstructed the sharing of shalom. Cultural structures of repression prevent the
common celebration of Gods feast of koinonia. Religious differences cancel
out the possibility of talking with one another about ultimate truths. All of these
incommunicado situations are in symbiosis in the total mosaic of human culture, especially
in the modern communication and information order.
How is it possible to share the message of Gods Reign in this
Understood in the broadest terms, the fundamental mode of mission is
that of communicating action in solidarity. Mission, therefore, is Gods
communicating act among all peoples with their various socio-economic and
politico-cultural structures and experiences. This communication of God has a subversive
impact on the totality of history in the universe, penetrating all the socio-economic,
political, cultural and religious barriers, creating the deepest level of koinonia and
solidarity among the people.
II. Gods Self-Communication among Peoples for Solidarity
A Biblical Paradigm
God communicated with the Hebrew slaves under the bondage of the
Egyptian Empire. This communication took place in the context of the covenant of God with
the Hebrew people. Here covenant and communication are inseparable. The empires
cultural matrix was pharaohs oriental despotism: a combination of mass slave labor,
highly developed civil engineering technology, an efficient bureaucracy and a divinized
absolute monarchy. This despotism challenged Gods covenant relationship with the
In Exodus 3:7-8, God communicates with the Hebrew slaves through Moses:
"Then the Lord said, I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt
and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have
come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of
that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of
the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the
The communication event between God and the Hebrew slaves involves
Gods seeing the affliction of the people, hearing their cry and knowing their
sufferings. It also involves the promise of their liberation and a new living place
flowing with milk and honey, symbolizing a free and just socio-political economy in which
the people are secure. This is the content of the divine covenant with the peoples there.
The communication event involved not only liberation from the Egyptians
but also liberation of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites and other peoples who
also lived under systems of oriental despotism. This was a revolutionary event, as recent
Old Testament scholars have shown. Despotism imposes the pacts of imperial power upon
inferior powers and their peoples. This is the counter-paradigm of Gods covenant
with the peoples.
Here it should also be pointed out that the partners of Gods
communication were the enslaved and oppressed peoples in Egypt, the Hapiru, as well
as those in the Canaan area who lived in a definite and total cultural matrix. Often this
partnership of the people in the covenant is underestimated through the glorification of
Gods initiative in communication, which in fact does not nullify but rather
establishes the covenant partnership with the people. Without the peoples
partnership, even Gods cornmunication does not take place.
Gods act of communication with a people involves their whole
life, including their political economy and their culture. Gods law, the covenant
code (Exod. 21:1-23:33), was said to have been communicated to the Hebrews to guide their
total life. The enactment of this legal code among the people represents the action of
communicating an alternative cultural paradigm. The Exodus event took concrete shape
through communicating Gods law among the people.
During the monarchic period, communication took the form of the
prophetic movement among the people. The prophets, along with the priestly institutions,
were the main channels through which the spirit of Gods law was communicated among
the people. The prophetic movement represented a struggle against the whole cultural
matrix of despotism, oppression and exploitation. The prophets were mediators of
Gods communication with the people. Their message was Gods love of the people
and Gods justice for them.
In the context of imperial domination by Babylon, Assyria, Greece and
Rome, Gods communication took place through the sharing of the Messianic vision with
the suffering people, kindling powerful hope among them. Genesis I and 2, Isaiah 11,
Ezekiel 37, the Books of Daniel and Revelation, etc., are some concrete examples of
Gods communication of visions of the future for the people suffering under the
The event of Jesus Christ integrates the history of Gods
communication with peoples and nations with Gods decisive act of Immanuel and
incarnation, encompassing the whole story of Gods communication among the people.
This is the New Covenant. It is called Immanuel (God dwells among the peoples), which is
the act of establishing the household of God. In John 1:14, we have the reality of
Gods communication: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of
grace and truth."
Jesus communicates the Good News of Gods Reign among the poor in
Galilee and in so doing enters into an unconditional relationship of love with the
Galilean ochlos. He shares the cross, that is, the destiny of the people under the
Roman Empire. Philippians 2:7-8 clearly expresses Jesus sharing of their suffering:
He "emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of
people; and being found in human form, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death,
even death on a cross." After all, "slaves of the Roman Empire" are new
partners of Gods covenant in Jesus Christ, who is the supreme mediator of the law,
prophecy and vision between God and peoples.
The movements of Jesus and His peoples bear the message of the Good
News of life among all the poor and among all nations and of eternal life, beginning with
His resurrection, which was Gods victory over all the forces of death. This is the
movement of the Spirit, who gives life, erects the household of God and shares the vision
of the Messianic Reign among all nations. This is also the miracle of communication
against the dominant cultural matrix of the Roman Empire. In Acts 2:4-6, we see the great
event of communication in the Spirit: "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were Jews
dwelling in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the
multitude came together, and they were bewildered because each one heard them speaking in
his own language."
This is the counter-paradigm against that of the Tower of Babel. In
Genesis 11:6-9, we read: "And the Lord said, Behold, they are one people, and
they have all one language; this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that
they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there
confuse their language that they may not understand one anothers
speech....Therefore, its name was called Babel because there the Lord confused the
language of all the earth, and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of
all the earth." This is the incommunicado system of the Babylonian Empire under
Gods judgment. There is no communication and no communion among the people under
this non-communicating system. The early churches, on the other hand, were communities of
communication and communion among the peoples who were suffering under the Roman Empire.
III. Gods Communication for Covenant Solidarity among the
Peoples in the World Today
A. Gods Communication for Covenant Solidarity among
Peoples in the Mesh of Different Cultures and Religions
i. In the history of mission in recent centuries, we can
observe three syndromes in the relationships formed between the Christian faith and other
religions and cultures of the worlds peoples. The first is the symbiotic
accommodation syndrome, which is prevalent in Western and Eastern Christianity, perhaps
with the exception of some orthodox traditions in Asia and Africa. The second is the
syndrome of isolation from the peoples religions and cultures, which is prevalent in
Asia and Africa, especially among the mission churches. The third is a syndrome of
"dialog" with the people of the living faiths. This is a "syndrome"
because the dialog am proach does not commit one fully to real solidarity with the people
but often remains on an abstract plane among the elite of the religious communities.
In each of the above syndromes, we find that Gods initiative in
communication for covenant solidarity has been distorted into a dominating, monopolistic
and even repressive unilateralism in communication. Even in the "dialogical"
models, the fundamental unilateral tenet is not overcome but only hidden or reserved.
ii. In recent years, we see a paradigm comprising a certain
degree of religious and cultural pluralism: diverse religions can live in one human
community in truth. This paradigm seems effectively to overcome the totalitarian ideology,
dictatorial models of truth, the authoritarian monopoly of truth and the self-righteous
exclusivism of one religion or one culture over others.
This paradigm has a certain strength in its creation of tolerance among
peoples differing religions, cultures and ideologies. It facilitates a liberal
atmosphere for the dialogical process in seeking truth(s). It recognizes mutual
subjecthood and identity as well as openness for mutual correction. It gives importance to
an open process for communication.
However, one must see that this paradigm can work only when liberalism
is assumed as the predominant foundation in the world. If this is the case, one can assert
that liberalism is a hidden ideology in this paradigm, which then becomes subject to the
shortcomings of liberalism, such as inequality among partners and relativization of the
other as well as oneself.
iii. In the Third World, liberation has been the focus of
communication, taking the name "conscientization" among the peoples. The
liberation of deprived, oppressed and alienated people from the dominant systems of power
has been a paradigm of mission, especially in the ecumenical movements. Women are
advancing cultural communication for liberation from various forms of patriarchy; and
races, castes and ethnic peoples under discrimination seek to communicate racial equality,
ethnic identity and caste liberation.
The question is how to share the Good News among peoples across the
barriers of class contradictions, religious differences and conflicts, cultural repression
and domination, political hostilities, social injustices and racial, caste and ethnic
discrimination. In the midst of complex conflicts and contradictions of exploitation,
oppression, alienation, discrimination and injustice, how is it possible to have
communication of the Good News that is inter-class, inter-racial, inter-ideological,
inter-gender, inter-ethnic, intercaste and inter-religious?
Each different issue has its unique character and unique situation; and
in actuality, at the same time, these different issues appear in combinations and may even
constitute a webwork. Different issues are interconnected in actual life, and this
includes the levels of analysis and action strategy.
It is in this context that we read Galatians 3:26-28: "In Christ
Jesus, you are all people of God through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into
Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor
free; there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Here we
can add sentences that reflect the reality of our times: There is neither upper class nor
lower class, neither powerful nor powerless, neither wise nor foolish, neither high status
nor low status, neither the Western-cultured people nor Eastern-cultured people, neither
white nor black nor yellow, neither Brahmins nor dalits, neither ethnic majority
nor ethnic minority, neither enemy nor friend, neither Christians nor believers in other
religions; for you are one in Christ Jesus.
The people, who are under these historical conditions, whatever their
conditions may be~, are one in Christ Jesus. Here, one is the most inclusive
solidarity, which may not be possible in human terms, but it is the actual reality in
Christ Jesus. This is possible through the mediation of the New Covenant with the people
in Jesus the Messiah of the people. This we call covenant solidarity among the people. This
is the basis of communication of the Good News across all the barriers among the people.
In Jesus Christ, the barrier between God and the rebellious people has been decisively
broken; nothing can stand in the way of communicating the Good News of Gods Reign
among the people.
iv. I suggest that the communication of the Good News must be
done in the context of the webwork of the worlds cultures and religions and
undertaken to achieve covenant solidarity among peoples. This demands communication among
the people of these cultures and religions in horizontal solidarity. The recent proposal
of the Seoul Convocation on a Covenant for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation
may be a good example of this approach.
B. Gods Communication for Covenant Solidarity among
Peoples of Different Political Economies
We are to share the Gospel with people living under different
political and economic systems and conditions. In recent years, the global constellations
of military, political and economic power relationships are being drastically reshaped,
and the direction and form of the future global order is unclear.
Christian mission has pretended that in principle it has no political
stance in any situation. It has been said that Gods Reign does not belong to this
world. This stance has allowed escapist tendencies, and furthermore, it has hidden
political stances of opposition or accommodation. As long as the Good News is being shared
with the people who live under concrete political economies, it has concrete
political-economic implications. Therefore, communication of the Good News must
distinguish these political-economic implications right at the point of communication.
This is the Biblical paradigm.
i. The communication of the Good News in the
context of despotic, authoritarian, military or totalitarian rule faces certain definite
historical challenges: to make the truth free of dictatorial monopoly, to create a free
process of interchange of truths, to make room for the free conscience of the people and
to liberate the people themselves from oppressive rule.
The people, including critically minded "intellectuals," are
subjects of this liberation struggle. Mission must take the oppressed people in this
context as its partners in communication of the Good News. The message is that Jesus is
Most of the Biblical stories are set in the context of imperial
despotic rule; thus, it is not difficult to interweave the story of the people and the
Biblical stories of the people of God to effect communication of the Good News among the
Mission communication is directly affected by the political
communication of the dictatorial powers, which seek to monopolize truth and to use their
communication channels to make the people into objects of communication. The monopoly of
truths, values and symbols, along with control of the media and education, is the
customary practice of the dictatorial power. Mission cannot say that the communication of
the Good News concerns only spiritual matters, for spiritual matters are affected by the
communication of the political powers; communication of the Good News itself has definite
implications for the freedom and liberation of the people. The communication of the Bible
by the Korean Christian churches during Japanese colonialism and the reading of the Bible
among the basic ecclesial communities in the Third World are definite examples of this
ii. The communication of the Good News in liberal democratic
societies, which have become secularized, is a quite complex matter. At first, the
churches became defensive; next they tried to present the Gospel in a secularized form.
The question was how to present the Gospel in nonreligious languages. The authoritarian
mode of communication of the churches could not be maintained without discrediting the
The modern industrial powers, such as transnational corporations (TNCs)
and the powers of the State with its bureaucratic and military technocracy as well as the
nexus of modern communication, information and education with its research and study
apparatus in Western (or Westernized) societies, have their own way, however, of
determining truths and controlling channels to make the people the objects of
communication. The secularized form of language used to proclaim the Good News is not the
solution for mission communication. It is not a question of only tools and media but of
the fundamental nature of the Good News and its communication among the people.
This situation could be very dangerous as the people are deluded into
believing that they have the freedom to enjoy truths of their own and that they have open
channels to truth. Once we look at the international order of communication and
information, however, it is clear that the media in liberal societies are closely linked
to the nexus of power at the industrial, political, military and university levels.
We begin our communication of the Good News with the victims of liberal
societies as our partners in solidarity. Here we need to think of the churches and
missions as the network of communication of the Good News among a nexus of power that
dominates truth in liberal societies.
iii. The socialist states in recent years are going through
dramatic changes in their internal life and in their relations to the global order. The
question of freedom has arisen, for their preoccupation with socio-economic justice has
objectified the people in the social process, particularly in the political process.
In some mission quarters, the freedom of a liberal society is
considered a precondition of free communication of the Good News. Recent changes in these
countries are seen as pointing towards liberal models of society. This is not yet clear,
although these countries are accepting market mechanisms for the exchange of goods and
In my view, it is important to learn from the churches in socialist
countries about the ways in which they have shared the Good News among their people, for
they did not intend to work for a liberal society even though they sought freedom.
iv. The above three kinds of contexts are often combined in a
given situation and in the world as a whole, forming a definite order of communication
with strong repercussions against communication of the Good News.
Korea is one example of this. Our life contains traditional, despotic
and authoritarian factors. The modern military and transnational corporate language and
values have penetrated the fabric of our society. We have totalitarian
"heritages" on the right as well as the north Korean socialist state with its
own way of communication. The social and cultural life of the Korean people is being
eroded by the imperial powers - traditional and modern - by ideologies and by
transnational industrial powers. The people are victimized materially and spiritually. it
is in this context that we are to communicate the Good News among the people.
There is no other way to communicate the Good News among the people
except in solidarity with them. I believe that the Minjung churches in Korea have
begur~ such a process of communication, although this must evolve further in the coming
generations. This process will spur imaginations in the network of communication for
justice, peace and the integrity of Creation.
C. Gods Self-Communication in the Midst of the Life of
Earth and Heaven
The technocratic paradigm of modern society threatens the life of
the world in four modes that ate outlined below.
i. The advanced science and technology of industrial
production, whether capitalist or socialist, is threatening to destroy the ecosystem that
sustains life on earth. The instrumentalist view of science and technology is no longer
tenable, being based upon a monopolistic and authoritarian view of truth. The uncritical
application of science and technology with the aim of unlimited growth of the industrial
economy has brought about the present ecological crisis.
If the communication of the Good News among the people has anything to
do with life and creation on earth, this situation concerns us deeply.
ii. Modern science and technology have enabled production of
military weapons systems that can destroy human life and the life of the world as a whole.
The present change in the global ideological framework will not stop the process of
continual development towards even more sophisticated and more destructive weapons
systems, although there could be some relaxation of the process in the absence of global
The Gospel of Peace is diametrically opposed to the design of any
weapons system for total destruction, even if that system is not being used. The
communication of the Good News has definite implications in this environment of mass
destruction, violence and death.
iii. Science and technology dictate the mode of human
organizations in economic, social, political and international life. The political economy
is highly organized as a technocracy in which the scientific and technocratic elite
determine the course of socio-economxc and political processes on the domestic and
international levels. State, economic and military organizations are basically
technocracies - a fact that seriously affects human life, subjecting it to the dictates of
science and technology. Communicating the Good News of shalom and koinonia among
the people calls this model into question.
iv. Modern culture has accepted science and technology as its
highest value. The Enlightenment ghost is haunting modern philosophy, science and
technology, dominating the question of truth. Modern culture has made information its
powerful resource, technology its almighty tool and the communications media its most
powerful channel of truth.
Some influential Western theologies have tried to interpret the Gospel
using the categories of modernity. This has created many problems in our communication of
the Good News among the people who are the victims of science and technology.
Could it be that oriental despotism is being remanifested in the
present technocracy? Is it possible that scientific truths and technologies have been
serving modern technocratic despots who have substituted these forms of control for
traditional authoritarian and absolutist dictatorships over their peoples?
What are the implications of this for communication of the Gospel among
the peoples of the world today? God has made us partners of communication with these
peoples, these victims of technocracy, and our solidarity with them will direct us to find
ways of proper communication of the Good News among them.
D. Some Missiological Issues of Our Times
The sharing of the Gospel among the people of todays world
requires effective communication within the context of the webwork of contemporary
cultures of peoples everywhere. Ways of communicating the Good News must be sought in
solidarity partnership with the peoples with whom the message is to be shared. The people
determine the way in which the communication is to be done, and the people ultimately
decide the content of the message in the context of their own intercultural situation. It
is not so much the medium as it is the people who decide the communication of the Good
News. Those who communicate or who have control over the media seem to control
communication, but ultimately the people are the subjects of communication, being partners
in Gods covenant solidarity.
The reality of Jesus the Suffering Servant means the total rejection of
any form of triumphalism in our missiological thinking, as is clearly stated in the words
of Jesus in Mark 8:31 and 9:35: "And He began to teach them that the Son of humanity
must suffer many things, must be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes
and be killed and after three days rise again"; and "If anyone would be first,
he must be last of all and servant of all."
Being rejected by the circle of the masters means the assumption of the
role of the Suffering Servant serving all. The Christological confession in
lhilippians 2:5-11 says:
"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.
who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be
grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of
people; and being found in human form, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death,
even death on a cross. Therefore, God ha~ highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name
which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and
on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the
glory of God the Father."
The total identification of the Church with the suffering people is the
beginning of the breaking of the barriers of communication of the Good News, whatever they
may be. This means that Gods covenant solidarity with the suffering people is the
basic context and framework of the communication of the Good News.
The most serious problem of both evangelical and ecumenical mission
today is that the language and communication of the Good News is monopolized in a
triumphalistic, authoritarian and even piously chauvinist manner in relation to the
suffering people. Theologies often defend and serve the churches "ideologically"
- not in the struggle against the powers-that-be, the masters of the dominant
communication system, and not in the service of the suffering people - but in defense of
the Church, the "owner" and "preserver" of truth and salvation.
The Suffering Servant who is in covenant solidarity with the suffering
peoples is the bearer of the Good News. He is not the master of communication of the Good
News. How can the churches bear the Good News without entering into covenant solidarity
with the people who suffer under the dominant cultural webworks of our day?
Three important cases should be examined: first, when the powers become
barriers to the communication of the Good News among the people; second, when different
webworks of religions and cultures become barriers to communication; and third, when
modern science and technology block the communication of the Good News among the people.
We may explore these three problem cases in relation to concrete
experiences where covenant solidarity was decisive in breaking the barriers to
communication. The Korean church has had to identify with the powerless during most of its
history, and thus, it has been able to communicate the message of liberation as the
Gospel. The Korean churches, by and large, however, have failed to deal with the reality
of different interacting cultures and have identified more with Western culture, including
Western church life and theologies. Now our churches are making some progress in this
area, particularly the Minjung churches. The Korean churches are confused over the
question of science and technology that dominates modern life, just as churches elsewhere
in the world are unsure about this issue.
Let me close my remarks by quoting a Biblical passage, Revelation
21:1-4, that is read often by our Korean Christians living under colonial domination:
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and
the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new
Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her
husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying. Behold, the dwelling of
God is with people. He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself
will be with them; He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no
more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things
have passed away."