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.’

[1] https://myhueintherainbow.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/were-an-issue/

[2] www.newsnjoy.or.kr

[3] Korean original – 이용필 (2016.06.16) 예장합동, 성소수자 인권 증진 목사 이단성 조사, Newsnjoy [online]. Accessed 2017 June 17 from http://www.newsnjoy.or.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=211598.

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

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