Mission life: THE KUKMIN DAILY

“There has always been division in church. It's just that we haven't learned from it.”

2014-06-05 22:46

Dr. Craig Barnes, president of Princeton Theological Seminary, suggested bold change and critical reflection as the tasks of Christianity in our times.

In his interview with Kukmin Daily on June 3 at Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary (PUTS) in Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, President Barnes said, “Currently seminaries in the U.S. and other countries are facing difficulties, especially because of the recession but also for other reasons, and the number of students is decreasing. This situation will naturally lead to a crisis in Christian leadership. If there is no change, ultimately the seminaries will die out.”

Regarding theological changes made at Princeton, he said, “In the past, ‘mission’ in the U.S. meant sending out missionaries to other countries to lead in all aspects of Christianity. Now world Christianity has Gospel posts?Korea is one of them?around which Christianity is showing great growth. Princeton Seminary collaborates with schools and churches in those countries, shares theology and mission policies, and tries to broaden the perspective of education.”

During his stay in Korea, President Barnes visited the United Graduate School of Theology of Yonsei University and PUTS, with whom he made agreements to operate student exchanges and internship programs. Princeton will also operate a pastoral field education program with Myungsung Presbyterian Church (Rev. Kim Sam-hwan) and Youngnak Presbyterian Church (Rev. Lee Cheol-shin). He said, “We made changes to actively respond to the challenges we’re facing.”

About the frequent divisions and conflicts within the church and the inappropriate remarks of pastors, he commented, “It’s not new at all. Even during Jesus’ time the disciples had conflicts. In the days of the early church, there were conflicts among members for more material goods and stronger power. This problem has always existed since the church began. But we overlooked and didn’t reflect deeply about it. Christians should recognize this tendency in human nature and actively examine themselves. Salvation is not guaranteed simply because you go to church and believe in Jesus. It is given when Christians stand upright in front of God.”

President Barnes also sent message of consolation to the Korean people in response to the Sewol ferry tragedy. He attended the united prayer service (Click here) held at Myungsung Church last June 1, and visited the memorial altar at Seoul Plaza in front of city hall. He said, “Jesus himself went through suffering, pain and agony. He’s always with those in pain, enveloping them in love and protecting them. As it states in 1 Corinthians 12:26, if one member suffers, all suffer together with it and should provide consolation.”

Princeton Theological Seminary was established in 1812 by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., through the secession of the theological department from Princeton University, of Ivy League fame. Korea has 83 graduates from Princeton Seminary, including the late Rev. Han Kyung-jik, Rev. Song Chang-geun (who cultivated the theoretical base of early Korean Christianity), Rev. Kim Jae-jun (founder of Chosen Theological Seminary, the predecessor of Hanshin University), Chang Sang (Co-moderator of the World Council of Churches), and others.

Reporter Lee Saya (Isaiah@kmib.co.kr), Yeara Ahn-Park (yap@kmib.co.kr)

Click here for the original article in Korean

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