1) Mission School Which Focus Is Only on Faith
“If you are a true servant of God, then do not allude to men for your needs but only seek the Lord!”
In 1962, a number of born again missionaries?Dick York (Shield of Faith Mission, the United States), Kays Glass (WEC, England), Derek Earl (WEC, England), Marlon Baker (Christians in Action, the United States), and Harry Wyman (Christian Literature Crusade, England)?united to establish a mission school in South Korea. Through a selective process of salvation and calling, a total of 11 students were admitted as its first incoming class, including Byung-un Yu, Nam-seop Sin, Gwang-sik Yu, Sung-jun Kim, and Ock Soo Park, and Pastor Shin-chan Kwon (then administering at Daegu Chilsung Church) joined as an auditor.
At the time, the mission school building was a big Japanese-style house where missionary Dick York’s family and students lived together, which prevented the theoretical and formal life of faith by focusing on the realistic training of faith. Daily schedule included individual prayer and Bible meditation at dawn, Bible study with missionaries in the morning, and evangelizing in a group of two’s in the afternoon. Every Saturday, Bible seminar was hosted at USA Culture & Information Center in front of Daegu Station.
What proclaims most attention is the fact that the ironbound rule of life was to seek God for all needs. Every missionary stressed, “If you need anything, do not allude to or seek from men. Only seek and receive from the Lord. The servant of God must only rely on God.” Thus students were prohibited to seek for neighbors’ help when they lacked food, and when someone was discovered to have sought help elsewhere, it was considered a problem. Relying on anything besides God was considered shame. In the beginning, student Ock Soo Park received a monthly supply of rice from his father in Seonsan, but he had to call off this provision and seek for daily rations by faith. Of course, the missionaries’ lives equaled to that of their students and partook in their hunger and pain.
Such a life of training was a unique process of learning faith that was not practiced in any other theology school, and students who could not put their focus on faith began to leave one by one. These students had come with assumption that the school, as it was operated by foreign missionaries, would provide good environment of learning English and pave the way for success in future; these expectations blinded their eyes to faith, inducing them to give up the training. At the time, the training of faith was very strict that the auditor, Pastor Sin-chan Kwon, wrote in his autobiography, “At the time, brother Byeong-un Yu (later became Pastor Sin-chan Kwon’s son-in-law) was leading a bible study, and when missionary Dick York joined the meeting, a certain medical couple gave him warm hospitality. When the missionary realized that brotherByeong-un Yu had been enjoying such hospitality all along, he expelled him.” In this manner, the missionaries did not compromise with and rejected against flesh or anything that was not of faith. Such faithful heart anchored in the hearts of students who received the training to the end.
Another aspect that drew attention was the fact that the entire education derived from the Bible itself. The missionaries taught the Bible via translation by student Nam-seop Sin who was very fluent in English; so if students concentrated on listening, it was very convenient for them to learn English. In the beginning, student Ock Soo Park also took interest in learning English along with the Bible, but when he realized how uncomfortable the missionaries felt about it, he fixed his focus only on the word of God. In short, the missionaries did not approve the fact that ministers of gospel, who must solely rely on the Bible in leading people to salvation and raising them in the Spirit, were taking interest in things other than the word of God. So even though most of students were young, everyone who encountered them was amazed by the depth and the knowledge they possessed of the Bible.
Lastly, one specialty in training was evangelizing, through which mission students individually preached gospel to people and led them to faith of salvation. Like today, evangelizing meant converting those who reject God and making them a member of church. So regardless of one’s spiritual status (whether s/he is born again), if the individual led many people to church, s/he was considered a spiritual person; also, if a congregation grew in size, that church was regarded as reviving. However, the missionaries were born again through faith after consulting with true gospel preachers. As they, too, were formerly indulged in faithlessness of the formalities of church, the spiritual condition of churches and their members in South Korea were not new to them. Thus they trained their students, not with the standard method of evangelizing, but with the realistic approach to the gospel. As time passed, disbelievers, churchgoers, deacons, and elders began to receive salvation through mission students. Especially those, who received true salvation after suffering in sin despite the long years of attending church, began to confess their newly acquired faith and happiness; yet this was not well received by churches that still practiced the standard method of evangelization.
But the question is, “How were the missionaries able to train their students through a different method of ministerial training from that of established theology schools in South Korea?” The answer to this question is that missionaries Kays Glass and Derek Earl were from WEC mission, which was founded by Charles Studd and Norman Grubb who were largely influenced by prominent gospel preachers, such as D.L. Moody and Hudson Taylor, who had pioneered for gospel works during 19th century. Also, missionaries Dick York, Marlon Baker, and Harry Wyman were born again pastors who sincerely respected D.L. Moody and Charles Spurgeon and received the same guidance of Holy Spirit.
2) The Pastor’s College and Moody Bible Institute
“I wish to remain as a man who only witnesses the crucifixion of Christ.”(Charles Spurgeon)
“The world ought to see how God works through people who are wholly devoted to His will.”(D.L. Moody)
Though countless servants of God preached the gospel in 2,000 years of Christianity, it is very rare to find those who were used for gospel works as powerfully as Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892, England) and D.L. Moody (1837-1899). The two people were born around the same period (Spurgeon in 1834, Moody in 1837) and were born again roughly at the same time (Spurgeon in 1950, Moody in 1856); also, in 40 years of preaching, each spread the gospel to 10 million people. Of course, the effect of their sermons, churches, and mission schools are beyond imagination.
Though the two people are now acknowledged as the best gospel preachers of their time, they were slandered by their contemporary religious leaders. The first reason is that neither of them completed formal education nor received ordainment from theological institution; the second is due to the fact that neither belonged to a specific religious association nor compromised with established formalities of church but only focused on preaching the gospel. This was possible because the two preachers had been truly born again and had realized the true meaning of the gospel and evangelization. Though each was born again and ministered separately at different churches in different nations, their life of faith was one and the same, and this deepened their respect for each other and promoted their relationship.
Though neither of them attended an established theology school, each founded an institution to train gospel preachers, which was The Pastor’s College (by Spurgeon) and Moody Bible Institute (by Moody). Soon after, these two schools were famed as the best gospel institutions in Europe and the United States. But how did Spurgeon and Moody, who never received theological education, mange to operate these schools? Of course, their schools were operated differently from other preexisting theological institutions. One key difference was the admission standards for prospective students. Spurgeon and Moody both regarded that students’ status of being born again and their calling from God was the main sorting condition.
“Regardless of one’s character and power, no one is eligible to work as gospel preachers if the individual is neither saved nor called by God. ” (From Charles Spurgeon’s “Lectures to My Students”)
“I do not wish for anyone to come near this wall except those guided by the Holy Spirit. I sincerely hope that only those who received God’s calling will come.”(By D.L. Moody at the opening ceremony of Moody Bible Institute)
Secondly, The Pastor’s College and Moody Bible Institute both focused on their students learning the Bible itself. This was significant because both leaders had realized the importance of the Bible and preached words all their time.
“I rather want to say five words in the Bible than fifty-thousand words of a philosopher.” (Charles Spurgeon)
“Read the Bible. You will starve to death if you don’t eat food but spend time in researching its chemical substances.” (D.L. Moody)
Guidance and fullness of Holy Spirit, and the gospel and faith in the Bible; these two were the source of power for Charles Spurgeon and D.L. Moody. Although they had an opportunity to receive theological education by the advice of others, the two rejected what was regarded as an established theological thought and aroused miraculous works of gospel solely through the guidance of God and words in the Bible. Their life of faith and gospel works served a good example for latter generations of born again gospel preachers. This trend continued to mission schools established by Dick York and Kays Glass, and now it is reflected in Pastor Ock Soo Park’s Good News Mission. On the other hand, the current religious circle in South Korea is producing introspective theories about preexisting theological institutions.
3) Theology Schools in South Korea Bombarded with Introspective Theories
“A serious question is posed against quality of Pastors as Korean churches too easily cultivate ministers.” “The examination score serves the main eligibility condition for admission to theological schools.” “The biggest problem is that theological education has been limited on knowledge.”
“The majority of pastors today believe that current theological schools do not prepare apt education for actual ministry.”
On May 26th and 27th, 2006 an official thesis presentation called “Should Korean Theological Education Continue This Way?’ was held in Baeseok University (Seoul, South Korea) before approximately three hundred theological professors. The above statements were the summary points of lectures given by the representatives of Korean theological thought. Everyone suggests that there is serious problem in all theological schools in South Korea?why do such introspective theories arise?
When we trace back the history, the first theology school in South Korea was Pyongyang Theological Seminary, which was established in 1901 by Dr. Samuel A. Moffett, of Northern Presbyterian Church in the United States. The special fact is that the theological institution, which first dispatched 7 graduates in 1907, admitted 20 times more the number, 138 students in the following year. Afterward, theological institutions were established centering on the doctrines of Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist sects, which now comprises 50 institutions in South Korea. Counting unofficial theological schools will add more to the number, but the issue lies in the growing disproportion of demand and supply of ministers.
The recent seminar ‘Balancing Demand and Supply in Korean Church’ concluded that “The Korean churches’ indiscreet cultivation of ministers results in the degeneration of the quality of pastors and breaks their balance of demand and supply.” Also, a professor from Chongshin University stressed, “Last year, the number of pastors who did not minister in church totaled 4,350, comprising 44.1% of entire ministers; this is the general reality of churches in South Korea.” In other words, the rate of pastor employment is higher than that of general employment. Why are such ministers, who are called servants of God, so recklessly cultivated? Actually, the spiritual status of church is directly connected to the spiritual status of ministers. So not anyone can become pastors since only those established by God can be called the servant of God; but in south Korea, their eligibility depends on individual want and ability and not on the guidance of God. Surveying real-life examples provide the following application and assessment standards for admission of prospective students to most theology schools.
[Eligibility Standards] 1. The applicant must have graduated or is planning to graduate from high school; 2. General Education Diploma (GED) recipient; 3. Students legally acknowledged to have similar qualifications as high school graduates; 4. Students with above qualifications who received baptism and recommendation from an officiant.
[Point of Reference] Academic Life (400pts), scholastic aptitude test (400pts), Bible examination (100pts), oral examination (100pts) = Total 1000 pts It is not much different from regular college admission standards. In short, the process of becoming a servant of God is awfully secularized, and more importantly, one’s salvation and calling from God, which two conditions were regarded as most crucial by Charles Spurgeon and D.L. Moody, are not even mentioned above.
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother”(Colossians 1:1)
“And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Hebrews 5:4)
Here, Paul emphasizes and takes pride that his apostleship is attained through God, not through himself. However, today’s recruitment standards for prospective students to theology schools are completely different from what Paul had said. This is why absurd answers are often found in surveys on admission motives, like “I lack points to enter regular college,” or “I couldn’t resist the advice of my father who is an elder,” or “I just wanted to become a pastor.” Sadly, this is how “the Holy Servant of God,” as supposedly engraved in the hearts of many God believers in South Korea, is produced by theology schools.
Yet the bigger problem lies in their curriculum. When we survey the process of obtaining theological credit, there are 90 different courses, of which only 10 are directly related to spiritual life. Most courses, like Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Constitution, Cultural Dialectic, Philosophical Logic, and etc., are irrelevant to spiritual life. Also, most general electives like English, Mathematics, Philosophy, Western Literature, Introduction to Psychology, and Cultural Anthropology, are added to curriculum, so it is almost impossible to learn realistic life of faith or depth of Bible from theological institutions. This kind of curriculum may equip one as a theological scholar but not as a true servant of God who ought to lead church by faith. In fact, this reality is reflected in their joke of naming theology students as pastors in their first year, elders in second year, deacons in third year, lay believers in fourth year, and backsliders after graduation! In conclusion, most theological process of becoming a servant of God is fundamentally different from that of truly born again servants of God. This only adds to the increase in ministerial employment rather than developing the true servants of God.
What is more shocking, there are only a few ministers like Charles Spurgeon and D.L. Moody in South Korea who can actually preach the gospel and lead people to salvation. This signifies that most South Korean pastors, who may lead people to formal ways of spiritual life, are not capable of leading them to become truly born again Christians. Recently, I encountered an unfortunate confession of a minister?it was a recommendation letter of a Korean Pastor written on the translation of “Physicians of Souls” by Pastor Peter Masters, who currently ministers at Charles Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle Church: “As I read this book, I realized what an incompetent physician I was to diagnose spirit. I doubted how I could be called a ‘physician of soul’ when I cannot even give sermons on evangelization. If ministers in South Korea read this book, this reflection, as it had occurred to me, will cut to their hearts?‘How ignorant am I to preach sermons and incompetent in evangelizing.’”