Theology of Life:
Wisdom of the Whole Life as an Alternative Foundation
Dr. Kim Yong-Bock
Without much theoretical discussion, it is our proposal that all
resources of life and reflections on it to be integrated under the whole notion of Life
Study : Biosophy. This means that a paradigm of holistic integration for reflections on
life should be manifest in any community of spirituality, art, wisdom, philosophy and
science. This notion of life should be differentiated from the life sciences in the modern
This initiative can be introduced from every global situation,
transforming and overcoming the destructive domination of the modern system of human
scientific knowledge. This venture should not be understood as an anachronism to go back
to the past and as romanticism of the pre-modern local community. It should be regarded as
a new, whole and creative effort to make a breakthrough into the future infrastructure for
the study and reflection on the life in the wholistic way. There is also a need to
inter-connect and cross-fertilize the local, national, regional and global initiatives
inside and outside of the existing institutions, provided their perspectives are mutually
converging across the various traditional boundaries.
I. Signs of Times and Changes in the Globe: Towards
Geo-politics for New Life
All the geo-political boundaries are radically broken open by recent
globalization process. Asia and world should be understood multi-contextually and
cross-contextually on all level. In order not to reduce everything to the global level,
this complex matrix should be always asserted in all our deliberations. This calls for a
forging a new geo-politics of the life in contrast to the globalization.
This is one of the fundamental geo-political shifts of
our thinking in the complex situation of globalization. The global marketization or
globalization despite its unprecedented scientific, technological and economic progress
has not resulted in the wellbeing of the people. Hunger and poverty and the consequent
suffering of the peoples in Asia and in the world are intensifying, causing despair and
hopelessness among the peoples. Security of life, human and social security, and cultural
identity have been radically eroded in recent decades despite the enormous economic
growth. This tendency will continue, unless there is a radical transformation in the world
economic system of global market. Of course, the suffering of the people has been lasting
throughout the millennia. But the suffering of the peoples in the world today has a
distinct character in the context of globalization.
Globalization Causes the Axial Shift in the Global Geo-politics
By geo-politics we mean the shape of time and space in which the world
is placed. There have been different shapes of time and space in history. In the early
historical time human community, and the life, itself lived in the natural time and local
space. Time and space have not been arbitrarily defined and managed.
Agrarian production, based upon the land, had been dependent upon the
local space and natural time. Community was formed in this primary geo-politics, where
cooperation and dependency upon the nature are essential relations. Tribal communities are
examples. Politically feudalism and despotic kingdoms are dependent upon the natural
geo-politics and agrarian economy. Cultural developments are also very much dependent upon
the natural space and time, the agrarian economy, feudal and royal politics of despotism.
Even in this natural geo-politics the imperial politics had developed in the form of
empires. Locality is the center of spatial organization of the life.
Religion and culture are very much determined by the natural
geo-politics. The dimension of the natural geo-politics is present in the every/local part
of the earth. The life is very much based upon the natural geo-politics.
In the modern times the industrial civilization had emerged. This has
shifted the shape and nature of geo-politics. This we may call the industrial
geo-politics. The concept of the absolute space and absolute time has been dominant in the
industrial society. Basically the world has been viewed as a machine. Here the time and
space has been managed according to the needs and dictates of the industrial society. The
industrial economy has been dependent upon the geo-politics of the absolute time and
space. This is the core of the modernity. The thrust of the civilization has been regarded
as modernization. The Western Enlightenment has dominated the philosophy of the world, and
it has evolved the infrastructure of the industrial society, that is, science and
technology. Already in the geo-politics, the colonialism for the market expansion had
developed along with the modern nation state, which is illustrated by the Thomas Hobbs
The center of the life organization has been shifted to the nation
state, suppressing and overcoming the local feudal/despotic geo-political arrangements. In
the industrial and modern geo-politics the ideas of the free market, the modern nation
state and social Darwinism have emerged.
In this geo-politics the individual has the absolute identity; and
social relations are determined according to contracts among the individuals. Culturally
speaking the freedom and private property as the highest values to preserve the life.
Relation of human community to the nature is one of the domination and conquering.
The basic center of power of the industrial geo-politics has been the
Western industrial powers. The industrial and modern geo-politics had a character of the
Western expansion to the non-Western civilizations; and in the post-colonial situation the
neo-colonial penetration of the Western modernization into the pre-modern societies had
took the force. The Western capital and the Western market have expanded as an integral
part of the industrial and modern geo-political process.
Now due to the development of advanced sciences and high technology,
the new geo-politics of cyber technetronics, in which the time and space are managed in an
unlimited extent. This made possible the globalization of the capital and the market. The
previous limits and boundaries of the geo-politics are being overthrown in the process of
globalization. Key players in the modern geo-politics had been nation states; but in the
new cyber technetronic geo-politics the key agents of power and influence have been the
giant transnational corporate entities such as global corporations and transnational
Geo-political Interactions of the Three Civilisational
Although the cyber technetronic geo-politics would be dominant, it will
not and cannot replace the geo-politics of the modern industrial civilization and the
natural geo-politics. The relationship and interaction among three geo-political horizons
or dimensions are very complex. There are conflictual relations. One dominates and
destroys the other. And there are value-added processes in their interactions in some
situations. In any case three different dynamics of the geo-politics interact among
themselves and they form different sets of relationship.
Arnold Toynbee, Alfred Northrop, Theodore van Leewen and other
historians/anthropologists postulate different patterns of interactions among them. Samuel
Huntington predicts "civilisational clashes" among civilizations, which have
different shape of geo-politics. Historians and philosophers August Comte and Karl Marx
would speak about stages of civilisational development. Toynbee speaks of the interaction
in terms of challenge and response. Asian historians speak of the interaction in terms of
the eastern morality (wisdom) and the Western instruments (technology).
One might conceive of the interaction of three different geo-politics
in terms of cumulative, transformative and creative process as well as conflictual/
contradictory, dominating/destroying and subjugation and corroding process. Recently the
post-colonial theoreticians speak of "hybridity" among civilizations or
geo-politics. In any case the proper fusion and inter-linkage of different geo-politics
are critically important in the present and coming globalization process.
Asian historians speak of the interaction of the Eastern civilization
with the Western civilization in terms of the Eastern morality and the Western
instruments. Asian intellectual leaders viewed the Western penetration as economic,
political and cultural invasion, colonial and neo-colonial "missionary
enterprises." Asian leaders have responded with the conservative, reformist or
revolutionary perspectives, which have not always been respected by the Western powers.
Samuel Huntington's thesis is merely an extension of this syndrome. However, there could
be an emergence of a creative glocal perspective to forge a new paradigm of the
geo-politics of the LIFE in the cosmos.
One might conceive of the interaction of three different geo-politics
in terms of cumulative, transformative and creative process as well as
conflictual/contradictory, dominating/destroying and subjugating and corroding process.
Recently the post-colonial theorists speak of 'hybridity among civilizations or
geo-politics. In any case the proper fusion and inter-linkage of different politics are
critically important in the present and coming globalization process. What is sought here
is that in the process of interaction, fusion and transformation there could be creative
development for new civilization in order to realize the new and full life in the cosmos.
II. KAIROS OF Biblical Geo-politics in the 21st Century
Theologically speaking, it is in this situation that we begin to sense
the imminence of the KAIROTIC GEO-POLITICS. We begin with the Biblical geo-politics of
God's Reign, which would manifest itself in the geo-politics of globalization.
In the Bible there are two distinct geo-political configurations: One
is the imperial and royal geo-politics, and the other is that of the Reign of God. The
latter we call the Kairotic geo-politics. The Kairotic geo-politics makes radical
interventions for the new life in the OIKOS (household) of God. The OIKOS is the abode of
the life, created by God.
The geo-politics of the Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Greek and Roman
imperial powers were subverted by the Kairotic geo-politics of the Messianic Reign of the
new heaven and new earth in which the new and eternal life is celebrated in the new city
(new Jerusalem) and in the New Garden (Rev.21 & 22). The creation of the cosmos and
therein the life in the Garden is the original Kairotic act of God to overcome the forces
and powers of darkness and chaos that cause to destroy the order of creation, the is, the
order for the life. Christ is the decisive power of the new and eternal life. Christ has
overcome the power of death to realize the Resurrection of the life. This is the Messianic
Kairos. The Spirit is the ever-present power of life that renews the life and gives the
power for new life in the universe and in all dimensions. The Messianic geo-politics of
cosmic OIKOS in which the new and eternal full) life in the New City under the New Heaven
and New Earth is celebrated is the paradigm to overcome the geo-politics that gives the
power and basis to overcome the powers of death, present in the globalization process.
The Story of the People in Various Geo-political Situations in
The stories of the people of God in the Bible are intertwined in the
various local, national and imperial settings. They are interconnected among the past, the
present and the future. They are never confined to any definite time. However, there are
certain focal points. We might want to illustrate briefly in the following:
i. The Exodus community of the people of God had the struggle for
justice and shalom of God in the covenant communities in the Canaan. Such struggle was
realized to some extent to overcome the imperial slavery of the Pharaoh. As it is
expressed in the Covenant Code, the Sabbath was the realization of such struggle, which
would liberate the slaves in the political economy of the Imperial power. Here the focus
is the local tribal community.
ii. The Stories of the People of God under the Kings' Reign
The people of Israel have had the struggle for the just reign of the kings. The ideal king
was regarded as the Davidic king, who would practice the justice and shalom of God among
the peoples of God. This is expressed in the prophetic messages. II Samuel: and Ezekiel
34. Historically, King David is not the ideal king; but he is the ideal in the sense that
the kingship is completely under God's sovereign rule and promise for the people of God.
God's covenant with David is manifested as the covenant of the king with the people of God
that he would rule according to the laws of God and God would bless the people of God
under the king's reign. Here the focus is the national community of Israel.
iii. The Stories of the People of God under the Imperial Reign
The people of God had apocalyptic languages as those of hope in the severely oppressive
and, therefore, hopeless situation. Genesis of 1 and 2, Isaiah 11, Rev. 21 and 22 are the
hopeful visions, as an integral part of the language of hope. These textual references are
expressions of the hope that was practiced by the faithful among the people of God. We
would regard them as manifestations of the messianic promise, or Eschatological or
Kairotic hope. Here the focal point is the communities of nations under the imperial rules
of the Egypt, Babylon, Greece and Rome.
The Messianic Movement of Jesus and the early Christian community has
created a universal movement, connecting the local, national, global and cosmic
i. The Reign of God to which Jesus has born witness is the foundation
and ground of movement as he has proclaimed in Luke 4. Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) of
the people is the direct manifestation of God's Reign. Therefore, Jesus himself and his
cross and resurrection are the foundation of the movement for the life of the people of
God as well as his deeds, words and ministry. The community of new covenant is that of
Jesus the Messiah of the people. This is the community of faith and hope in the eternal
ii. The Spirit is the power and energy of imagination, which works
dynamically in the life, and koinonia of the early church. The early church suffered
various persecutions of "cross," just as Jesus suffered. The community has had
hope in the resurrection of the Messiah, whose Spirit energizes the community for the
struggle. The Messianic praxis of Jesus is manifested in the spiritual movement of the
early Christian community.
Dimensions of Praxis of New Life
The historical contexts of the peoples of God shape all the different
manifestations of hope in God, Christ, and the Spirit, which are dynamic, creative and
concrete in the lives of the community of faith.
Faith in God, in Christ and in the Spirit provides the foundation for
the Praxis of New Life among the peoples of God. Unbelief may mean the loss of hope.
Therefore, belief in God is the foundation for the praxis of the New Life among the
peoples. Dynamics of New Life in God, Christ and the Spirit manifest different dimensions
of the praxis in the community of the people of God.
The subject of New Life is ultimately the people(s) and nations of God.
The subject of the praxis of New Life is therefore the peoples. There are two foci in the
notion of the people; and one is the community of faithful and the other is the general
and national peoples. Often the Christendom has confused the people of God with the
Christian religious people, who are culturally co-terminus with the Western Christian
people. The statement that the people are the subject of hope is not an ideological
statement, for the people are the partners of God. In so far as the people are partners of
God in covenant, they become truly subjects of hope and of the messianic movement of hope.
Life is future-oriented. Biblical language of eschatology and
eschatology-related stories and languages are all the grounds of hope for the future life
of the peoples. Hope for new life involves the critical evaluation of the present and the
past, and it is an act, which leaps into a new future, which is neither the continuation
of the past and the present nor the worsening of the present. Kairotically thinking, the
time and space should not be confined to the modern cosmology, Newtonian or Einsteinian.
Hope is kairotic and eschatological dynamics; not merely chimera, romantic, fantasia,
utopia or wishful thinking. It is the praxis, which involves responsibility and concrete
vision for the life and destiny of the people.
This vision of new life shines as light to expose the reality of the
present and the past. There is a difference of social and analytical expose of the present
reality from the expose under the light of the future vision. The social scientific
structural analyses have been much used to expose the structures of injustice and unjust
power relations in the past decades. However, there is a growing awareness about the
limits of such analyses, for they tend to be reductionist; and their final outcome
emphasize the negative aspect of reality, which leads the people to pessimism and even to
despair. Such structural analyses do not lead the people to hope. Even if such analyses
provide some optimistic outcome, it simply is a possibility, which can provide any ground
for the new life of the people in the new universe.
However, the analytical work, which presupposes the grounds, can
overcome the negative analytical outcome, no matter how it is grim and even impossible.
For the new life is not grounded ultimately upon the analytical work and its conclusions
on the social and historical reality. In reality, the imagination for the new life should
be a presupposition for such analyses, so that such analyses can lead the people not to
despair and pessimism, but to courage and passion to struggle against injustice. Hope for
New life and analyses should be closely inter-linked. This should be an integral part of
the praxis of new life.
Hope for new life propels the imagination of the people of God into
envisioning, planning and designing of the concrete future community according to the will
of God. This imagination in hope brings about the specific goals to be realized. This
requires the mobilization of the people with resources to realize such goals, inspired by
the hope. Ways and means for the praxis of new life are total resources of the people,
fully under the framework of messianic movement of the peoples of God. Churches, ethics,
missions and liturgy are all the instruments for the praxis of new life.
MESSIANIC GEO-POLITICS VS EMERGENT GLOBAL GEO-POLITICS
Today the global market dominates the life on earth. The life is indeed
the victim of the globalization process, which is dominated by the market forces. The
residue of the despotic, feudalistic and authoritarian powers has caused the injustice and
violence that destroy the life in the human community and in the universe. This dimension
of injustice has been integrated in the globalization process. The modern Western industry
and its corporate giants with their transnational character and symbiosis with the
political powers (the so-called industrial complex) have created the global order and
process in the form of colonialism and new-colonialism in the name of modernization or
Westernization. This has begun to destroy the life environment and to manipulate the
bio-chemical process of the life. The geo-politics of globalization with the forces of
cybernetics and technetronics creates the process of the cultural injustice, the cultural
desertization, and the cultural chaos, detrimental to the life in the human community and
in the universe. The geo-politics of globalization with the forces of cybernetics and
technetronics (the new global formation capital) is to be understood not only on the level
of theories and policies; but it must be understood on the level of the victimized life in
human and cosmic community. This process has vertically integrated the geo-politics of the
natural and industrial geopolitics into the geo-politics of globalization, the latter
dominating and fusing them under the paradigmatic conjugations of the geo-politics of the
The reality of sufferings among the peoples in Asia is partly due to
the objective conditions of their life in the context of globalization, and at the same
time to the absence of renewal of faith as the subjective condition for life. At the
present time it is discussed in the context of market optimism of the global capitalism
and of the failure of socialist political economies as well as in the context of new
global situation in which the peoples of the world suffer massively without hope. How is
it possible for the suffering peoples to struggle for there tomorrow? It is set in the
background against the futurology of liberal social sciences and the progress philosophy
of the Western utopia based upon modern technocracy - a regime of science
Social Biography of the People and the Life in the Universe as
the Context of the Language of New Life.
The question of praxis of life should be understood and treated in the
context of the social biography of the Minjung, the suffering people. The praxis of life
for the people takes place in their life of suffering. The proclamation of its praxis for
new life by the Christian community takes place in the same context. Biblical word comes
alive in the context of the life of the people who suffer in concrete situations. Our
Biblical and theological reflections take place in the story of the suffering people. This
is set against the optimistic modern philosophy of history, liberal and progressive. We do
not have enough space to discuss the modern idea of progress as a philosophy of history,
which rejects the eschatological understanding of the world. Social biography is a
comprehensive and wholistic story of the people on the cosmos in terms of their suffering
and aspirations. The people tell their own stories, without being objectified by others.
The people communicate their experiences through their own stories. In this sense the
people are subjects of their own stories, responding to their natural, historical and
social environments as well as to their spiritual heritages. The Biblical stories are in a
way the social biography of the people of God in the universe, who dwell among them.
Messianic Geo-Politics for the New and Eternal (full) Life
Reading of the Bible in connection with the life of the Asian Minjung
in the context of globalization gives imagination for the new messianic geo-politics for
the full and eternal life.
The Kairotic geo-politics of the Messianic Reign id not determined by
the limitations of the space and time, natural, modern or cyber-technetronic; but it is
determined by the imminent presence of the Spirit. It is neither chronological order,
which is determined by the sequence of the past, the present and the future, nor is it
determined by the geo-graphical space, arbitrary or natural. The Messianic geo-politics is
determined by the new and eternal life in the new cosmos.
God and New Life
Biblical view life is clear enough without any detailed discussion. We
only need to refer some Biblical texts. God is the giver of life to the people of God.
This means that God gives hope to the Minjung in Asia and in the world. Reality of life
among the people is set in God's covenant with them in the cosmic context. This is the
affirmation that God is the Creator of life and its sustainer. God as the found and giver
of life cannot be limited to humanity, to Christian community, or to the Christendom. It
extends to the cosmos, the whole universe. The expanse of the life is indeed cosmic.
God's act of creation is to overcome the darkness (death and evil) and
the chaos (wasteland). God is at the center of the dynamic movement of the life against
death. The life is the movement from death to the new life of the eternal bliss. God is at
the center of the Exodus movement, in the prophetic movement and in the eschatological
movement for new life in the whole cosmos.
God created the life with the Spirit (breath) and the word. This is
that biblical affirmation that the origin of the life is the Spirit of God. The Spirit of
God is the dynamic force for the justice, peace and shalom of God. The Spirit gives the
subjectivity to the life in the cosmos. This subjectivity embraces all the dimensions of
the life, natural and human.
Christ and New Life: the Messianic Feast of the Life is the
Core of the Movement for the New Life
Revelations 21 and 22 show clearly the climactic and eschatological
dynamics of messianic feast of life. New Heaven and New Earth, and New Community therein,
which is the OIKOS of God is the geo-political locus for the Messianic feast of the life
in which all nations with the whole universe participate for the eternal (full) life. The
water, fruits and trees and the Spirit of the life are constituent elements on the
Messianic Garden of Life. This reminds us the image of God's creative act in the books of
Genesis and Isaiah.
This vision of the new life in the Bible (Revelations of John) should
be seen with the background of the Roman Empire, which is expressed in the symbolic
language of the Babylonian Empire. The thrust is that the KAIROS of the messianic
geo-politics of new life breaks into the life of the people in the universe, which is
victimized in the vortex of the globalization.
In the movement of Jesus for the Reign of God (Luke 4:) and in the
movement of Jesus against the Roman Empire the eternal life is the central core which is
realized in his crucifixion and resurrection to overcome the powers and principalities of
death. The life and works of Jesus should be understood as integral parts of the life
movement. The Jesus movement through his actions, works and teachings is to establish the
movement for the eternal life in the new cosmos.
Once again the Spirit of the Messiah is the central dynamic of the
movement of the new life in the universe in the context of the Messianic Reign, to which
all the peoples and nations are invited for the feast of the eternal life in the new
cosmos (new geo-politics.)
The Spirit in the New Life Movement
The Spirit of God is already working the God's Creation. It is the
central dynamics to establish justice and shalom for the life, as it is demonstrated in
the Exodus, in the Jubilee, in the Prophetic movements and in the Apocalyptic movement for
the new age eschaton) for the life.
The Spirit is the agency to establish the subjectivity and the dynamics
of the life-the new and eternal life. The Spirit is present over the universe; and it is
present in the deep of the life, natural, community and universe. The Spirit does not have
any limitations by the geo-politics, determined by the nature and by the human community.
Spirit gives the hope and imagination in the life movement in the
And in his (Christ's) name the Gentiles will hope (Matthew 12:21)." To them God chose
to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery,
which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). The messianic hope is cosmic
in its scope and its inner dynamics determined by Christ's resurrection overcoming the
power of death . The messianic hope invokes the messianic spirit among the people for the
messianic movement to overcome the power of evil and death in the world. All the nations
(oppressed) are invited to the messianic feast of life in the new OIKOS under the new
heaven and on the new earth. The Holy Spirit is the Pervasive "Power" of life
and hope among all the Suffering People and in the Groaning Cosmos
III. Ecumenical Praxis of Hope among Asian Peoples
Praxis of Biblical and Christian new life can take place among Asian
peoples in the global context. Asian praxis cannot be separated to the Asian context
alone. This is a crucial point for us. The Asian people have already wisdom and language
of hope in their stories. These Asian stories of the struggle for new life may be regarded
as God's gifts to the people as "natural" grace, just as the water; air and life
are given to them. In Asian traditions, there are rich religious, cultural, philosophical
resources of the new life for the people. Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism,
Confucianism, Taoism and many indigenous religious traditions have rich resources that
give energy to the suffering people to sustain their lives. Of course, religious power
structures these religions to the advantage to the rich and powerful, and they often
become religious and ideological justification for the establishment of the power that
causes the sufferings to the people. In this context, these religious traditions even
justify the suffering of the people themselves.
Christian communities of the New Life in Asia need to link the New Life
in Christ clearly and concretely with the struggles for new life of the people in their
stories and in their religious, cultural and philosophical traditions. This may be a major
missiological and theological tasks of Asian Christian communities for the praxis of New
Life. This may be the way for Christian communities to share the wisdom in Christ with the
peoples of Asia, and to inject it into the life of the people and into their aspirations,
even as Christian communities share the sufferings of the Asian people.
The Western progressive thoughts often have given strong influences in
the struggle of the peoples in Asia, even though generally the Western thoughts have
underestimated the religious and cultural traditions of Asian peoples. Due to the Western
colonial influences in Asia the Western thoughts, closely associated with the colonial,
imperial and economic powers have negatively functioned to the life of Asian peoples.
Our proposal is the multi-religious, multi-cultural ecumenical
methodology, including the linkage between religious and secular, for the praxis of new
life. This methodology is not merely for the Asian Christian communities, but for the
global Christian community indeed. For the praxis of new life should be done in the
context of the globalization.
Kairotic Reading of History of Multi-religious ecumenism:
Examples from the history of Christian communities in Korea and Asia.
Christian connection with Messianic Buddhism has been made throughout
the history of Asian Christianity. The first evidence is found in T'ang Nestorian
Christianity (635-). In this Nestorian Christian development the Christian Messianic
language is closely connected Buddhist messianic language of Maitraiya Buddha. In the
monument of the T'ang Nestroianism, Christianity is presented in the Chinese Buddhist
language. Moreover, the language of the Maitreya Buddha, which is a messianic Buddha, is
used very closely. The T'aiping Christianity is also closely related to the White Lotus
Buddhist sect, which is also messianic. The most clear example is the Korean
inter-religious ecumenism, which was manifest in the March 1st Independence Movement in
1919, in which Korean Christian Movement has joined with the Buddhist messianic movement
in the struggle of the Korean people against the Japanese colonialism.
Christian connection with Shilhak (Realist School of Confucianism) is
another clear example. Roman Catholicism gave hope to the Korean people in the 17th and
19th century Korea. Inter-religious synthesis of the Roman Catholicism and Realist School
of Chosun Confucianism became the language and praxis movement for the social
transformation in Chosun society. T'aiping Christian Movement in China has also used the
Confucian language for the movement to transform the Chinese society in the middle of 19th
Chinese society. It is often regarded that Confucianism is a kind of utopian romanticism
of the past Yao Sun age, the primeval golden age. But Chung Yak Yong, a scholar of the
Realist School of Korean Confucianism has used the language of the Golden Age as a
messianic language of hope and social transformation.
Just as the T'aiping Christian Movement has connected itself with
Chinese religious traditions, Korean Christianity has practiced its multi-religious
ecumenism, joining in the Messianic religious tradition of Ch'ondokyo (the Heavenly Way)
which is a synthesis of the Christian connection with Ch'ondokyo in the March 1st
Independence Movement, which is the political manifestation of the Messianic movement of
hope among the Korean people. Ch'ondokyo is an indigenous Korean religion that contains
the Shinson folk utopian tradition, the folk apocalyptic tradition of Chungkaprok, the
Messianic Buddhism as well as the Messianic Christian language.
We can find many Christian connections with Asian religious traditions
such as Islam, Hinduism, and other indigenous religious traditions. This position is not
merely an inter-religious dialogue. It is not merely inter-religious cooperation without
touching the religious practices. When we refer to the inter-religious ecumenism, we do
mean deepest connections among Asian religious traditions for the praxis of the messianic
movement. Christian messianic wisdom is inclusive of all energies and resources of
struggle for new life, which rises in the history and life of the peoples in Asia. The
Biblical praxis of new life will be strengthened, and it will catalyze the dynamics of new
life among the Asian peoples.
Christian connection with progressive social thoughts in modern times
cannot be treated lightly. Although the Western secular thoughts have carried their
colonial and imperial baggage along with them, they made connections with the aspirations
and struggles of the peoples in Asia, and they gave a dynamic energy of hope to Asian
peoples. Asian national struggles have drawn their resources from the Western progressive
thoughts. In so far as they provide energy wisdom for struggle for new life to Asian
peoples, Christian community needs to make connections for the praxis of new life among
the Asian peoples.
The Praxis of Jubilee for the Asian Peoples in the Context of
Since the praxis of hope is a Kairotic action, or a Messianic movement
of the people, we need to deal with the issue of globalization which has profoundly
influencing the life, nations and peoples on earth.
We have already noted the global marketization and its impact upon the
fundamental and radical geo-political shift that is taking place as the framework of
globalized civilization, in which the Modern West will be dominant. Globalization of the
capital makes drastic changes in the economic life of the people, victimizing the most of
the peoples in the world in the midst of the global economic growth. Political
institutions, national and local will be seriously weakened; and the people become more
and more helpless and apathetic. The market driven competition brings about a new social
Darwinism, a correlate of the Neo-liberalism, intensifying the social violence,
undermining any human and life security net. The market- driven cultural life threaten
cultural identity and values for individual and community, and even it is experiencing
chaos in the aesthetic life of the people. Religious heritage and wisdom are eroded in the
globalization process. Ecological crisis is not merely the question of the nature; but it
is the question of the whole life, human and natural.
In response to the globalization the peoples in Asia and in the world
are not totally in despair. They have aspirations for the better world. They suffer but at
the same time they struggle. There are signs of hope every where in the world as well as
in Asia. In the in this context the Christian community is called to the praxis of their
Asian Praxis of New Life Must Consider Asian traditions of
Messianic Movement of the People
Christian communities in Asia as well as in the world should be able to
connect with Asian secular and religious traditions of messianic movements, when the
Christian community brings their Biblical life kairotically to the life of the suffering
people (Minjung) of Asia. We take one example of this praxis.
Confucian Tradition: Chong Yak Yong's Praxis of Life is an illustration
how the primeval Yao Sun utopia is used as a ground for social transformation and vision
for the people in the 19th century Korea. Similar examples can be found in China and Japan
as well. Buddhist Tradition: Meitreiya Buddha as the Messiah of the Suffering People.
Korean Buddhist intellectual leader used this Buddhist tradition for the national
liberation struggle. Maitreya Buddha in Korea is a messianic Buddha of hope among the
suffering and oppressed people, especially southwestern part of Korea. Another tradition
is a new religion, Tonghak Tradition. It is a Korean Tradition(
Confucian-Buddhist-Sunist-Christian Inter-religious Ecumenical Synthesis of Vision for the
New Life. It played a great messianic role to transform the Korean society and to back the
Korean national independence and liberation from the Japanese colonialism.
These traditions joined in the March 1st Independence Movement (1919),
which is regarded as the Korean Exodus Movement. It is fundamentally the messianic
movement of the Korean people. In this Movement Korean participated fully with the
Biblical message of messianic hope. From this historic experience, we are drawing an
ecumenical methodology for the praxis of life in Asia in the globalization context.
IV. Inter-linked Dimensions of New Life
1. The Life of Peace: Against War and Destruction of Life
Human history has been that of war among human groups and against the
nature. Some has a view that the civilization has developed in the process of create
weapons of the war. The 20th century has experienced the two World Wars; and now the
science and technology, with its cybernetic and technetronic developments, enabled to
humans to engage in the total and omni-potent wars to destroy the life, human and cosmic
in its totality.
New life demands the matrix of security for the peace for the whole
life, which is capable of overcoming the wars, local, national, regional, international
and global. The comprehensive peace movement with all the studies and praxis on all levels
are needed for the new life on earth.
Biblical vision for peace and life and its ecumenical manifestations in
Asia and in the world will generate the hope and imaginations for the new and eternal life
in the cosmos.
2. Just and Healthy Life: Against the Starvation, Hunger and
Economy has its historical development with mixed and paradoxical
blessings for the life. OIKOS + NOMOS = OIKONOMIA is the meaning of the economy.
Originally the economy is human activity to care for the life in the home in the garden.
The East Asian notion of economy carries the meaning of "caring the people according
to canons of the scriptures.
Due to human greed, manifested in many different forms, caused
starvation, hunger and poverty as the economy has grown and developed into new stages.
Riches have been amassed by the powerful in each stage of human history. Now the power of
the global capital and its transnational corporate institutions dominate the emerging
global market. Its monopoly of science and technology enables them to have almost
unlimited power and influences beyond any control. In recent years the money, with its
financial powers, victimizes the people radically. All the exchanges and dealings among
the peoples are controlled by the global market agencies to meet the insatiable greed of
the capital. Profit maximization and absolute control is the name of the game that they
New life in the cosmos demands a new economic justice. A true OIKONOMIA
needed to be articulated according to the needs of the life on earth. This demands to
overcome the separation of the economy from other dimensions of the life on earth. Life
enhancing concept of the economy is required. The growth orientation and profit
maximization of the economy should be transformed. Local communities need to have
self-reliant and self-sufficient resources of their economic wellbeing and economic
justice as they live in the glocal situation.
3. Life of Direct and Common Participation in Solidarity
Network: Against Oppression
Political institutions have been oppressive of the people in many
different ways. Nations and peoples have suffered despotism, autocratic rules, imperial
domination, national totalitarianism, state dictatorships, military dictatorships,
religio-political symbiosis, colonialism and ideologically rigid rules in many different
forms. The Western liberal democracy has not brought about the full participation of the
people. It enhanced liberal political rights such as human rights and other individual
political freedoms, but it also opened a door for the powerful and the rich to dominate
over the weak and the poor. Recent neo-liberal developments are sequel to the liberal
political democracy. Liberal tradition has failed to control the global market as well as
Globalization has made political boundaries of nation states and
national security measures obsolete in an increasing degree. Already we have experienced
the domination of the super powers; and now transnational corporate powers over-ride any
conceivable boundaries that inhibit their activities, new and old. The nation state no
longer fully represents the people, preserving and securing the sovereignty of its people.
Often it is succumbed to the powers of transnational agencies and corporate entities.
The people themselves demand direct participation and intervention of
the people in the global market, as well as radical democratization of the existing
political institutions. Truly the people must realize their political selfhood on the
local, national, regional and global levels.
This requires a local-national-regional-global network of participation
and solidarity, commensurate with the global powers and principalities, old and new. We
will need new political institutions on all levels for glocal participation and solidarity
across the boundaries, set by the powers and principalities. This is a new vision of
ecumenical politics for new life on earth.
Radically new political process of direct participation and solidarity
network is coming of age all over the world. This may be only way to control and overcome
the tyranny and domination of the despotism, the military dictatorships, imperial and
colonial powers, and transnational corporate powers.
4. Life of Shalom (Secure Wellbeing with Justice): Against
Social Conflict and Violence
Human history is a jungle where the strong eats the weak and where the
fittest alone can survive. This process as been manifested in the social relations in many
different ways. Classical contradictions are between ethnic and racial, class and caste,
gender and social status, which formed the vortex of the social violence. In this jungle
there is no justice, no community and no cooperation and peace.
Globalization has brought a new and newly emerging social process,
which is dictated by the so-called new social Darwinism. New conflicts and new
contradictions, such as conflicts between information haves and have-nots, are emerging.
Injustice is deepening; and intensity of the conflict is mounting to cause greater
violence and their cyclical acceleration.
Social justice, social security, social peace and social reconciliation
are to be redesigned in the global process in which the neo-liberal ideology makes the
people worship the ideology of the competition. In ideology the victor is glorified
regardless of any means and any ways used. The people need a new approach for common
living in all levels of local, national and global communities.
The welfare state social security system as well as socialist state
social security system must be transformed to establish a dynamic human community with
justice, peace and harmony. Prerequisite for this may be people's participation in their
local community as their participation is closely connected with network of common human
security over the world.
5. Life of Rich Meaningfulness and Fine Beauty: Against
Disertisation of the Cultural Life
Culture is the soul of the civilization. It is the art of common life.
The people attain their identity, value orientation, aesthetic senses and feast of life.
Culture is the art of common life in the cosmos. Culture gives the people their perceptual
apparatus and orientation of understanding. Culture is the reservoir of the wisdom of the
life of the people in the cosmos.
Globalization affects very much cultures of the peoples and national in
the world. This globalization process has an accelerating process of technetronics and
cybernetics, along with information and communication in hi-tech form.
Ethnic, national and cultural identity, which is the inner core of the
life of the community in the cosmos, is radically eroding due to the impact of the
globalization. The powerless and marginalised ethnic and national communities are very
The perceptions, value orientation and world-views of the people are
very much affected by the hi-tech media and communication, which is dictated very much by
the global market forces. Mammonism and consumerism, materialism and hedonism are
rampantly spread in the minds and hearts of the peoples all over the world. The hi-tech
communication and cybernetic informatics affect the market, the politics and societal
processes in a most powerful way. What is beautiful is geared to the pleasure
market-oriented pleasure mechanism. Knowledge is reduced to the level of technical
Culture contains the wisdom of the life in the cosmos. The culture is
the spiritual home of the life. Spirituality is the vital energy of the life. This is
eroded in the globalization process. Modern philosophy, science and technology reduced
uprooted spiritual core of the life. The life is reduced to rationality.
Here religious dimension of the culture and therefore the very life has
been eradicated from the roots. Religions are substances of civilizations and the cultures
are forms in which religious truths and spirituality find expressions. Modernity has
reduced the religion to the minimum of what is rational; and the spiritual mystery of the
life is suppressed in the name of what is rational. Suppression of the religious vitality
has been detrimental to the vitality of the life.
What is most drastic is that the global market will exchange the
cultural commodities, which may occupy the main process of the market. Globalization
commercializes the popular, mass and indigenous cultures into commodities in the market.
This is causing several problems such as homogenization, cultural desertization, identity
crisis as well as the drastic injustices in terms of cultural powers of communication and
information. As information becomes commodities for market, the information gap will
seriously affect the balance of power; and it will replace the economic gap between the
rich and the poor.
There is a demand for new cultural movement, which is truly life
enhancing in the local communities. Asian civilizations enshrine great religious truths
and their manifestations, which may the wellspring of wisdom and resources of new life of
the peoples in the cosmos. The Asian soil of civilization may be the nest and cradle of
the new global civilization, which would counter to the current cultural process under the
dictates of globalization. The cultural creativity is very much demanded for the life, not
for the profit in the market.
6. Life of Vitality in the Macro- and Micro Cosmos: Against the
Destruction of Life
The modernity made a fatal split of the life in the human community
from the life in the nature. It also reduced the reality of life to the bio-chemical
process. This is the epitome of the modern reductionism in understanding the life.
The industrial civilization, which is based upon modern science and
technology, has sought the progress by conquering the natural forces. This created the
current environmental destruction process. Unless the fundamental paradigm of the
industrial economy and its civilisational assumptions are radically altered and
transformed, there can be no solution to the problem of the ecological crisis. This
fundamental attitude of modernity is also present in the life sciences. The genetic
modification methodology in food production is a prime example, in which the reductionism
and domination over the life is consistently executed. This process seriously threatens
the life process as a whole, human and natural.
The life is the whole. The life is to be cared for in the Garden of the
Life. Gardening of the life demands the respect of the life in the cosmos in its entirety
and in its integrity. Enhancing of the life in the cosmos demands an entirely new paradigm
of the life, which overcome the understanding and manipulation of the life. Life is to be
prospered Against the Damnation of Death and Destruction.
7. Life of Bliss in Celebration: The Life of Curse and Tragedy
The peak bliss of the life is to Glorify God and enjoys it with God.
The foundation of such bliss and celebration of the life is based upon the faith in God.
God has made the covenant of life in Shalom. The life is the life, when it overcomes the
power death. The life is the true life, when it has eternal dimension. The life is truly
life, when it is fulfilled in a whole and in a full life. This is the foundation of the
new life according to the Biblical teachings. This reality of the blissful life should be
realized on this earth in a kairotic way. This is the beginning and the culmination of the
study of the life.
We have discussed the role of the Bible and religious traditions for
the new life among Asian peoples in the cosmos. Now the theology takes a central place in
this deliberation as well.
Theology should be interconnected to all the studies of the life.
Theology cannot be separated form all other studies. Theology is a study of new and
eternal life. Theology cannot function without all the studies of the whole life in its
V. Conclusion and Summary for Praxis of the New Life
- God is the Creator and Giver of Life to the people of God and to the whole cosmos.
- Messianic Celebration of the New Life in New Heaven and Earth is the Fulfillment of the
- The Kairotic Presence of the Spirit is the Dynamic and Pervasive "Vitality" of
Life among all the Suffering People/nations and in the Groaning Cosmos.
God and the Life (God's Created Life) are the Partners in the Drama of
the Cosmos, in which the Garden of the Life is the centerpiece. This is the Geo-politics
of God's Reign.
In our times our geo-political paradigm of the pst in time and space
has been radically shifted due to the development of science and technology. Terms, such
as universal and global has a different meaning today. The local cannot be separated
from the global. One context cannot be regarded as relatively independent. All contexts
Technocracy is a social regime in which the scientific ad
technological elite and power control the center of whole of the social system. The
Western corporate institutions such as transnational corporations are key agents in the
technocracy, which are closely related to the government, military academic research power
* [The above paper was presented at the URM "Leadership
Capacity Building" training programme in Jogjakarta, Indonesia, 18 April - 2 May 2001.]