Buddhist-Christian Engagement In Post-War Korea: Arguments of Mobility


The theological and spiritual engagements between Buddhists and Christians during the post Korean War period have been complex and paradoxical. On some external levels they have been characterized by a hardening of exclusive positions, on the other hand they have sometimes resulted in cross-fertilization. On an ideological level two key-concepts have been social progress on the Christian side and cultural tolerance on the Buddhist side. Converts to Christianity sometimes associated Buddhism with cultural “immobilism” and saw Christianity as more compatible with the movement of modernity. This has been in part connected to a particular interpretation of Christian “historicity” and also its association, in Asian imagination, with the Western ideas of progress. On a philosophical level, the various debates have often revolved around a reevaluation of Christianity in Asian terms, hence a Buddhist inspired critique of “substance” and “duality”, as exemplified by the later works of Kim Iryōp. This has not only been the case in Buddhist writings about Christianity, however, but also, interestingly, in some important segments of Christian theological reflections, like in Hee-Sung Keel’s works. In all cases both Christians and Buddhists have tended to rely on arguments connected to a sense of mobility, whether historical or philosophical. This paper explores this focus on “movement”, its underpinnings and its ambiguities.


Patrick Laude
Professor, Theology and Religious Studies, Georgetown University, Ad Dawhah, Qatar


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Religious Commonalities and Differences


Interreligious, Dialogue, Polemics, Buddhism, Christianity, Korea,Theology

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