An Evolving Train Wreck and Debacle, Pt.2 – Or, ‘Witch Hunting Likes Company(?)’

It appears the General Assembly of Presbyterian Churches in Korea (GAPCK) didn’t feel secure enough in its position as the largest Protestant denomination in Korea to investigate the minister of another denomination over which it had no pastoral authority – so they decided to call in a little help! Here’s a translation of an article from another news service which describes that move!

‘Pastor’s Homosexual Advocacy, Heresy Problem’[1],[2]

Eight Churches Cooperate on Heresy Inestigation of Pastor Lim Bora

Reporter: Beom Yong-su (2017.06.27)


Eight churches have agreed to cooperate with the investigation on the homosexual advocacy activities of the Rev. LIm Bora.

Representative of these eight churches (Methodist, Evangelical Holiness, Baptist, Presbyterian (Daeshin), Presbyterian (Donghap), Presbyterian (Hapdong), Presbyterian (Hapsin), Presbyterian (Kosin)[3]) met in the General Assembly offices on June 27th to share information on the homosexual advocacy activities of the Rev Lim Bora, and decided to cooperate in a heresy investigation.

Recently, the Rev Lim received a letter notifying her of a heresy investigation from the Ethics Committee of the General Assembly of Presbyterian Churches in Korea (GPACK)[4].

The Rev Lim has participated in the Korea Queer Culture Festival (KQCF), and has recently participated in the publication of the Queer Bible Commentary (QBC).

The eight denominational representatives said, ‘Since this pastor is proceeding with homosexual issues in a doctrinal way, we are conducting this investigation of heresy to protect the members and pastors in our denominations, regardless of where they belong’.

The Rev Jung Yong-sik, Moderator of the GPACK, said, ‘In addition to publishing the Queer Bible Commentary, Pastor Lim Bora as a Protestant pastor has been a homosexual advocate for the past tweo years.’

Jin added, ‘Even if she does not respond to this inquiry, we have data on her homosexual advocacy activities’…The next joint meeting of the eight denominations will be held in July.

[1] Original article: 범영수 (2017, 27 June). “목사의 동성애 옹호, 이단문제 해당”. NewsPower [online]. Accessed 29 June 2017 from

[2] As with other articles, I take responsibility for any errors in translation.

[3] My note: there are almost 100 Presbyterian denominations in the Republic of Korea(!).

[4] My note: this is the Presbyterian Church (Hapdong).


An Evolving Train Wreck and Debacle, Pt. 1

That’s all I can call it.

Over the past month or so, I have been watching a spectacle unfold here in Korea which is both laughable and rage-inducing. A minster of the Presbyterian Church of Korea, the Rev Dr Lim Bora, a tireless worker for LGBT rights and the inclusion of sexual minorities in the church, has been subjected to an investigation for heresy by another denomination, the General Council of Presbyterian Churches in Korea. They have also managed to gather around seven other denominations, Reformed and other, to take part in this nonsense!

This has been taking place with the 18th Korea Queer Culture Festival (KQCF – Seoul’s Pride Festival and Parade) as its backdrop. There’s a certain irony, but also a certain appropriateness, to the juxtaposition to all this. Just as Korea’s sexual minorities have been gathering together to celebrate their continued life and love; just as this nation has emerged from a collective nightmare to parallel Watergate; just as a shift in public attitudes appears to be emerging (see my previous entry, ‘We’re An Issue’, for musings on that[1]); a conservative Christian force (CCF) seeks to use an antiquated church procedure, traditionally mean to deal with errors of doctrine, to target someone who appears to symbolize all that they don’t like concerning everything that’s been going down recently!

I’ve been following this silliness as it’s transpired and evolved. I’ve been doing rough English translations of the articles which have been published on this, partly for my own information, partly to test the quality of the AI algorithms in Google Translate (they’re getting a lot better for Korean to English!), and partly to keep the hangulistically-challenged community in Korea (of whom I’m one!) informed of what’s happening.

I believe the time has now come, though, to let as much of the whole wide world (the οἰκουμένη, oikouménē) know what’s going on. This should be named for the shameless nonsense that it is. Therefore, I’m going to be posting the translations I’ve been doing as a series of blog posts. Read on – yet, be aware that reading may induce rage and uncontrollable impulses to smash computers, tablets, or smartphones. Reader discretion is advised!

I take full responsibility for whatever errors in translation there may be, and request your forgiveness and forbearance. However, the need to bring this to the wider world takes precedence.

I am grateful and indebted to the progressive Korean Christian news service Newsnjoy[2] for their ongoing coverage of these events. They remind me of the work of the great church journalists of Canada, like Al Forrest, Hugh McCullum, and Tom Harpur. May their work be blessed and prosper.

GAPCK investigating Pastor for Heresy due to Promoting Sexual Minority Rights[3]

Lee Dae-jae, “Homosexuality is affecting our denomination”

Lee Yong-pil Posted 2017 June 16, 17:44:59

The Rev Dr Lim Bora, leading the celebration of the Eucharist at the Korea Queer Culture Festival last year (photo above). A Heresy Committee has begun investigating the pro-homosexual activities of Pastor Lim. (Newsnjoy/Choi Seung-hyun)

The General Assembly of Presbyterian Churches in Korea (Moderator, Kim Seon-gyu) is investigating the Rev Lim Bo-ra (Sumdol Presbyterian Church) of the Presbyterian Church in Korea (Kwon Oh-ryun, Moderator) for heresy through its Heresy Investigation Committee (co-chairs, Lee Dae-wi and Jin Yong-sik).

The GAPCK received a petition to investigate the heresy of Pastor Lim at its 101st General Assembly last September. The investigation was requested in relation to the publication of the Queer Bible Commentary[4]. On June 15, Lee Dae-wi sent a letter to Pastor Lim, entitled ‘A request for information on research related to heretical thought’.

The official letter read, ‘I have been charged by the 101st General Assembly to investigate you and your organization for heresy. Any books and other materials issued so far (sermons, newspaper articles, audio and video recordings, etc) and any revisions to them are to be sent by registered mail by June 23rd. If you do not reply, we inform that you will be judged on the basis of the data we have acquired.’ At the bottom of the letter were the names of the joint chairs of the GAPCK Moderator, Kim Seon-gyu, and Jin Yong-sik, chair of the investigating committee.

NewsnJoy called Jin Yong-sik, chair of the investigating committee, on June 16th to hear the details of this story.

Pastor Jin said he was investigating when the proposal came in, and asked Pastor Lim for a copy of the Queer Bible Commentary. Asked if there was any connection between ‘queerness’ and heresy, he said, ‘Homosexuality is affecting our denomination. We oppose homosexuality. The Bible prohibits homosexuality.’

Asked if it would be appropriate to investigate a minister in another denomination, he answered, ‘It is reasonable.’ He said, ‘We are questioning homosexual activity, and the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PROK) is not in favor of homosexuality. We cannot help but investigate as long as this appeal stands.’

The Rev Lim Bora, who is being investigated for her theology, is in a position to respond positively. Rev Lim said, ‘I don’t know why I have to answer this. I will speak about the unfairness of the actions of the GAPCK and its General Assembly. I hope there will be an opportunity to discuss the Queer Bible Commentary.’



[3] Korean original – 이용필 (2016.06.16) 예장합동, 성소수자 인권 증진 목사 이단성 조사, Newsnjoy [online]. Accessed 2017 June 17 from

[4] Please note – this is a Korean translation of the Queer Bible Commentary (2006 – D Guest, M West, T Bohache (eds.), London: SCM Press).

‘Embrace Your Heresy!’ – An Open Letter to My Friend and Colleague, the Rev Lim Bora

Hello, Bora.

My congregation, Open Doors Metropolitan Community Church, has asked me to write you to convey our official support for you while you are undergoing an investigation for heresy from the General Assembly of Presbyterian Churches in Korea (GAPCK).[1]

We are shocked and horrified by the prospect of this denomination investigating you, the pastor of another Christian denomination (the Presbyterian Church in Korea (PROK)), for doctrinal violations, especially since the investigating denomination has no supervisory authority over you! To add to the sense of horror and outrage, the GAPCK is now enlisting the resources of seven other denominations in carrying out this investigation.[2] Your supposed ‘heresy’? Advocating for sexual minorities for the past two years, and publishing the Queer Bible Commentary into Korean![3]

Well, on one level, their investigation on the basis of your ‘advocacy’ activities over the last two years is actually laughable. Anyone who knows you is quite aware that you have been advocating for sexual minorities for a lot longer than two years! This in itself shows just how amateur their investigation is.

More importantly, though, we find it outrageous that these denominations are now engaging in what is little more that ‘ecclesiastical harassment’, a rank abuse of power for the sake of troubling who holds theological views they disagree with. Why stop there? Why not investigate any Christian with whom they disagree? In going after you, they have opened Pandora’s Box. It would be interesting to see how they would react if they themselves were to be investigated for ‘overstepping the limits of ecclesiastical authority’ (I actually think a good case could be made for this!).

I’m sure you are aware that we see the charge of heresy as being completely without merit. For one thing, the GAPCK is elevating an ethical issue, one which is not addressed in any of the Reformed confessions of faith, to the level of a doctrinal ‘litmus test’. There are a growing number of Biblical scholars, theologians, and pastors, including those within evangelical circles, who are concluding that there is no conflict between being a Christian and being gay, lesbian, transgender, transsexual, queer, intersex, asexual, or any other sexual minority. If they go after you, they’re going to have go after a lot of Christians. Are they going to go after Brian McLaren? Matthew Vines? Tony Campolo? Bishop T D Jakes? Where will it stop? Heck, maybe I should ask them to investigate me!


However – what would you do if the ‘worst’ were to happen? What if this ‘kangaroo court’, as it is likely to do, declares that you are guilty of heresy? Now, in asking this question, I freely admit that I don’t know whether there will be any ramifications for things like your status within the PROK, your home denomination, or for things like pension or health insurance benefits.


I’d like to suggest that you embrace your ‘heretic’ status! Now you might be wondering, ‘Why in the world would I want to take on the title of “heretic”? I want to have the respect of this society, so that I can have influence within it?’ Well, that might be a worthy goal, but remember who we follow. We follow someone who was executed by the state for sedition, a scandalous end for a scandalous crime. The one we follow consistently advocated for those who were on the outside, and when the time came, he willingly became one of those outside what is acceptable in society. Remember, as well, the advice of the Apostle Paul: ‘God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.’ (I Corinthians 1:27-29).


Therefore, I’d like to ask, ‘Why stop at the QBC?’ Why not start a project for translating the Our Whole Lives, the sexuality education resource from the Unitarian Universalists and the United Church of Christ? As you know, I always say this country doesn’t have a problem with homosexuality – it has a problem with human sexuality! This would be a great opportunity to introduce a truly progressive theology of sexuality to this country, a chance to get people here, both inside the church and outside, to openly talk about sexuality in an honest way, to discuss what sexuality is and what it’s meant to be.


I know you’d like to be respected by your peers in church and society – all of us would like that. However, if it is your calling to poke and prod the church into a more honest exploration around that, maybe it’s time to embrace your ‘heresy’, and your role as a ‘heretic’. Yes, you may lose some things, but you may gain things which are even more valuable.


In the meantime, please be assured that we at ODMCC stand shoulder to shoulder with you, and you have our constant support in our thoughts and our prayers.


Peace and blessings from your colleague and friend,



[1] Lee, Y P (2017, 16 June). GAPCK investigating Pastor for Heresy due to Promoting Sexual Minority Rights (예장합동, 성소수자 인권 증진 목사 이단성 조사). Newsnjoy [online]. Accessed 18 June 2017 from

[2] Beom, Y S (2017, 27 June). ‘Pastor’s Homosexual Advocacy, Heresy Problem’ (“목사의 동성애 옹호, 이단문제 해당”). News Power [online]. Acessed 29 June 2017 from

[3] Kim, R E (2017, 18 June). ‘The theological basis that a minority should not be condemned’ (‘성소수자가 정죄되지 않을 신학적 근거’, 이야기하고 알려야). The Ecumenian [online]. Accessed 19 June 2017 from