HWANG Sung Kyu: The Life and Theology of Changgong, KIM Chai Choon

HWANG Sung Kyu: The Life and Theology of Changgong, KIM Chai Choon
Edited by Hwang Sung Kyu
Translated from Korean by Lee Yeong Mee
Rev. Changgong, KIM Chai Choon Memorial Program (Corporate Juridical Body)
Published by Hanshin University Press, 2005
411 Yangsan-dong, Osan-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea
ISBN 89-7806-060-9 93230.
Printed in Korea


Vorwort - Preface

The Reverend Dr. Kim Chai Choon (1901-1987) was a theologian whose thought embraced both progressive conservatism and conservative progressivism, a philosopher whose studies mingled both Eastern and Western culture and philosophy, and a constant seeker of profound truth. His openness seemed to originate from studying theology both in a liberal seminary, Chungsan Hakwon in Japan, and in a conservative seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary in the United States. He was also deeply immersed in Eastern culture from early childhood, as he had studied Chinese literature while growing up in a Confucianist family. Indeed, he distinguished himself as an outstanding educator of ministers and a national leader in the midst of the darkness and suffering of modern Korean history, from Japanese colonialism, through Liberation and the Korean War, and the military dictatorship' period.

Chosun Theological Seminary, the predecessor of the present' Hanshin University, was founded in 1940 using native capital resources, funded by Elder Kim Dae Hyun, and imbued with nationalism. Professor Kim Chai Choon actively participated in the process of establishing the Seminary. Prof. Kim taught theology using the historical critical method, that is, the Higher Criticism, at a time when fundamentalism dominated Korean theology. For this, he was judged as a heretic and was excommunicated from the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Korean. However, he kept his faithfulness to his commission as a minister and a theological educator until he was forced to resign by the dean of Hankuk Theological Seminary during Park Chung Hee's military dictatorship. Considerable numbers of his disciples are practicing Prof. Kim's teaching and faith in every part of Korean society and the Christian church. His thought and works were collected in the 18-volume "Collected Works of Kim Chai Choon," which introduces Dr. Kim's understanding of the foundation of Korean Christianity, the Bible, Christian responsibility in the Korean historical reformation, etc.

Dr. Kim's life and thought were too wide-ranging and profound to be confined within the church. In 1960-70s, the military dictatorship severely oppressed democracy and violated human rights. Dr. Kim called upon the Christians to exercise their ethical responsibility as the ones who were sent for a historical mission: to devote themselves wholly to history to fulfill Christ's will of redemption. Based on his view of Christian ethics, Dr. Kim struggled for Korea's human rights as the leader of the Korean committee of Amnesty International, the chairman of the Committee of the People's Struggle Against the Constitutional Amendment for a Third Presidential Election, and the representative of the People's Council for Democracy. As his return to Korea had been prohibited by the military dictatorship in 1974, he stayed in Canada for 1.0 years. During that period, he acted as the chairman of the North American Council for Korean Human Rights, and the chairman of the North American Committee of the People's Coalition for Korean Democracy and Reunification. He was indeed the national leader not only in the Christian church but also in Korean society.

It was our honor and blessing to have such a great teacher and leader like Dr. Kim Chai Choon. We are happy and eager to serve as the heirs of his legacy - his life, faith, and thought - and to develop them further in creative ways. To carry on this creative development, the Rev. Changgong, Kim Chai Choon Memorial Program (Corporate Juridical Body) was formed in 1988. The Memorial Program has offered open lectures on Changgong's thought, created a scholarship, and published books in memory of Changgong.

The present book, a translation of selected articles of Changgong, was published to share his life and thought with those who want to know about him, as well as Korean Christianity and society, but who are not able to read his works in Korean. We hope that this book will help those English-speaking readers, including Dr. Kim's nephews and nieces in Canada, to gain a deeper understanding of Changgong and Korean Christianity. The first part, a brief introduction to Dr. Kim Chai Choon's life, was written by Dr. Lee Sang Chul, Changgong's first son-in-law. The second part consists of the essence of Changgong's writings in relation to Korean Christian theology and history, selected by Prof. Dr. Kim Kyoung Jae translated by Dr. Lee Yeong Mee.

We deeply appreciate the dedicated work of Dr. Lee Sang Chul and Dr. Lee Yeong Mee, as well as Dr. Agatha Haun and Ch. Shin Jang Keun who thoroughly proofread the English translation. We also would like to extend our gratitude to Dr. Oh Young Seok, the President of Hanshin University, and Prof. Suh Kuing Il, the director of Hanshin University Press, for making this publication possible. Finally, we hope that the book motivates more readers to join our journey to creatively perpetuate the legacy of Changgong Kim Chai Choon's life, faith, and thought.

January 15, 2005
Rev. Changgong, KIM Chai Choon Memorial Program (Corporate Juridical Body)
Dr. Hwang Sung Kyu, Chairman of the Memorial Program



The Chronology of Changgong, KIM Chai Choon (1901-1987)

A Short Biography of Changgong, KIM Chai Choon 金在俊

I. The Letter Kills, the Spirit Gives Life
1. The Significance of Biblical Criticism and Its Result (1950)
2. An Open Letter (1948)
3. On the Doctrines of Inspiration and Biblical Infallibility (1950)

II. The Truth Will Make You Free
4. The Historical Significance of the PROK (1956)
5. The Basic Foundation of Christianity (1955)
6. The Theology and Ethics of Richard Niebuhr (1963)
7. 25 Years of Hankuk Theological Seminary History (1965)

III. The Word Became Flesh
8. The Christian Ideal for Nation Building (1945)
9. The Christ incarnated in History (1959)
10. The Christian's Political Participation (1967)
11. The Theology of Historical Participation (1971)

IV. On the Third Day
12. The Place and Role of Christianity in Korea (1973)
13. The Logic of the Third Day and the Future of History (1974)
14. An Understanding of Non-Christian Religions (1965)
15. The Universal Love Community (1986)


1. A Brief History of Hanshin University (HU)
2. A Brief History of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK)


A Short Biography of Changgong, KIM Chai Choon
von LEE Sang Chul (Auch als pdf-Datei - hier)

His Early Life

Rev. Dr. Kim Chai Choon was born on September 26, 1901, in A-Oji, Obong-Dong Sang-Ha-Myun, Kyung-Heung-Koon, North Korea. His father was a farmer. His grandfather was a scholar of Korean classics and Kim Chai Choon's first teacher.

It was from his grandfather that he gained his early education and a firm foundation in Confucian philosophy. He learned the basic 1, 000 Chinese characters and by age 9 mastered the four writings (Sasuh) and the three classics (Samkyung) which are the roots of Chinese classics and Confucian philosophy.

Political Crises in Korea

The Korean peninsula, which connects the surrounding countries China, Japan and Russia, has been of strategic importance to its neighbours for centuries.

The geographic importance of the peninsula was one reason why Korea had chosen isolationism for most of its history. The policy was changed in the late 1800s. International conflicts among surrounding nations increased their aggression toward Korea. Finally the Russo-Japanese War broke out in 1904, ending more than a year later with Russia's defeat. The result of the conflict set the stage for the military invasion and subsequent colonization of Korea from 1910 until the end of the Second World War. Kim Chai Choon was 9 years old when Japan invaded and occupied Korea.

Koreans suffered under Japanese rule, but Western Protestant missionaries, who had been allowed into Korea in the late 1880s, were in a position to promise hope for the future of Korea.

The Japanese colonial power brought a new educational system, imported from Europe and United States. Kim Chai Choon enrolled in the third year of Town Primary School and graduated from the school in 1913. He then enrolled in an agricultural school in the distant city of Hoiryung and graduated in 1915.

He was hired by a financial institute and served as a clerk for three years. His parents arranged his marriage to Chang Boonye in 1919. They met for the first time on their wedding day.

While he was working in Woongi County, Kim Chai Choon met Song Chang Keun, who would repeatedly help him to pursue his education. Song encouraged Kim to go to Seoul to continue his studies. With Song's support, Kim went to Seoul, where he began to study English at the YMCA.

Kim's Conversion to Christianity

Kim Chai Choon was encouraged by his friend Song Chang Keun, who had converted to Christianity, to attend an evangelical rally led by Rev. Ecdoo Kim, a famous evangelical preacher at the time. It was at this rally that Kim Chai Choon was touched by the spirit of God. "The Creator God cannot be understood by human reasoning," said Rev. Ecdoo Kim. "Dear brothers and sisters, believe in God, you will become a new person and see the new world in the light of God and you will become the new people of God." Kim Chai Choon responded to the challenge and said, "Yes, I accept the Creator God." Later he reflected this inner experience by writing, "It was a miraculous moment. My heart was burning and felt a divine joy."

He converted to Christianity and a short time later attended a Bible school in Seoul. He was an avid reader as a child and during this period of religious awakening read all kinds of books including the works of St. Francis of Assisi. Kim Chai Choon learned that St. Francis stressed the need to imitate the life of Jesus and viewed nature as a reflection of God. Kim Chai Choon was deeply moved by the teachings and practice of St. Francis such as practicing Holy Poverty. Like Jesus, St. Francis gave up all his belongings and lived among the poor.

When Kim Chai Choon converted to Christianity he had had a firm grounding in Confucian philosophy and moral principles. Kim Chai Choon's family was concerned that his conversion would result in the total rejection of Kim's family and heritage. However, Kim Chai Choon did not condemn his family's spiritual heritage and throughout his life maintained a balance of Eastern and Western beliefs, values and heritage. He seemed free to entertain two spiritual traditions to create something new and distinctly his own.

Beginning of His Theological Journey

His friend Song Chang Keun was studying theology at Aoyama Seminary in Tokyo and encouraged Kim Chai Choon to join him. His theological journey began like this. He was impressed by the spirit of freedom of the Aoyama Seminary. While at Aoyama, Kim Chai Choon learned that freedom of the individual and the freedom of academic thought were guaranteed at that university.

He was an avid reader of theological books of diverse theological writers. He became acquainted with the neo-orthodox theology of Karl Barth, Emil Brunner and others through lectures and by reading their works.

Kim Chai Choon did not have a detailed plan for his study of theology or a dream of a Christian ministry. However, the atmosphere of Aoyama Seminary inspired and encouraged him to devote himself to study theology to its depths. He began to see his life's work, like that of his grandfather, as an educator. He also began to envision an educational institute of primary and secondary schools and a university on the same campus and based on a foundation of Christian principles.

Kim Chai Choon graduated from Aoyama Seminary in good standing in the spring of 1928. He returned to Korea and devoted himself to the evangelical campaign. He visited many isolated villages of the northern parts of Korea and gave his verbal witness to the people.

Post graduate Studies of Theology in the United States (1928-1932)

His friend Song Chang Keun was by now attending Princeton Theological Seminary and again encouraged Kim Chai Choon to join him. He accepted this invitation as a great challenge and opportunity. While contemplating his journey, he met Yun Chi-Ho, a wealthy and progressive minded individual. Yun recognized Kim's talent and supplied the travel money he needed for his journey to San Francisco. He arrived penniless and Korean immigrants living in San Francisco welcomed him and provided enough money for him to buy a railway ticket to New Jersey and Princeton Theological Seminary.

When he arrived at Princeton Seminary in 1928 to begin graduate studies, American theological schools were experiencing a divisive debate about fundamentalist theology. At Princeton Theological Seminary, John G. Machen, a professor of New Testament studies, was an influential fundamentalist and later left Princeton to establish Westminster Seminary. Kim attended a couple of Machen's lectures because he wanted to become acquainted with the fundamentalist theology.

Later he reflected that he observed the deadlock of the liberal theology at Aoyama and observed the desperation of the fundamentalist theology at American theological schools. He could not see the answer to the theological movement in either extreme theology. Kim did not see himself either as a liberal theologian or a fundamentalist. He was theologian who embraced the Korean traditional spirituality and Western theological principles. His writings show that he developed a theology for Koreans and their church. His distinctive brand of theological works may also provide a significant contribution to the 21st Century ecumenical movement of the world churches.

He moved on to the Western Seminary in Pittsburgh. His three years of study at the Western Seminary of Pittsburgh (1929 to 1932) helped establish him as an Old Testament scholar. His knowledge of Hebrew was highly regarded and he received a student award for his work in Hebrew. During this period, the Western Seminary was widely recognized for its high standards in the study of the Old Testament.

While at Western, he also submitted two dissertations: "A Chronological Study of the Exodus," and "A Critical Study of the Pentateuch and the Prophetic Movement in the 8th Century B.C." He received high academic marks and graduated with a bachelor's and a master's degree in sacred theology (S.T.B. and S.T.M.).

Return to Korea

Kim Chai Choon graduated from the Western Seminary in 1932 at the height of the Great Depression in the United States, and was forced to discontinue his studies and return to Korea. He became the Chaplain at Soong-In Middle School in Pyung Yang in 1933. Political pressure from the occupying Japanese forced him to resign from the Soong-In in 1936.

He was soon invited to teach at Eun-Jin Middle School in Manchuria operated by Canadian missionaries. This move occurred under the pressure of compulsory worship at the Japanese Shinto shrine ordered by the Japanese government. Kim chose Manchuria, expecting a better situation. The compulsory worship at Shinto shrine at that time was enforced at all educational institutions including theological seminaries.

Although Manchuria was also occupied by the Japanese military, they tolerated the activities of Christian churches. In Manchuria many Koreans were engaged in the Korean independence movement. Korean churches were very active in Manchuria and Kim Chai Choon was ordained in the Korean Presbyterian Church in Manchuria in 1937.

In both schools, Soong In in Pyung Yang and Eun-Jin in Manchuria, Kim Chai Choon taught the Bible and supported Christian student activities. He was fortunate to meet many bright and faithful students. Some of them went to Japan and studied theology at Aoyama and other colleges. While in Manchuria, he began publishing his monthly journal, "The Crusader."

Theological Education: The Korean Church in the 1930s

During the 1930s, the Korean Church had a very limited number of leaders who received theological education with academic degrees overseas. People like Song Chang Keun, Kim Chai Choon, Han Kyung Jik and a handful of others who returned from the United States, Europe and Japan were ready to serve their church in various fields of church ministries. However, they were often not welcomed in theological seminaries. For instance, Pyung Yang Presbyterian Seminary did not offer teaching posts to any returning Korean theological students.

Theological education at the period was dominated by Western missionaries and there was a lack of good will to honor the native leadership. However, there was one notable exception. Pak Hyung Nong was a Korean student at Princeton who left to join the fundamentalist Westminster Seminary, founded by Dr. John G. Machen. After Pak Hyung Nong earned his doctorate degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he returned to Korea and was hired by Pyung Yang Theological Seminary as a professor.

Many Korean scholars began to wonder why more qualified Koreans were not teaching at Korean seminaries. This resulted in calls for the end of Western missionary domination of Korean theological education.

Founding of the Chosun Theological Seminary

The Korean Protestant churches originated from the missionary works of the Western churches of the United State, Canada, Australia, and the Anglican Church of Great Britain.

During this period the Korean Protestant churches grew rapidly. They were evangelical, but also highly involved in the social concerns of the time. The church played a leading role in the nation-wide independence movement in 1919. Thousands of Christians sacrificed their lives in the patriotic movement against the Japanese occupation of their country.

In response to the uprising, the Japanese colonial government began oppressing Christians. The oppression by the Japanese fell upon every segment of Koreans' lives. All the Christian seminaries were closed by the Japanese colonial government.

In the fall of 1939, Kim Chai Choon was invited by concerned Christians in Seoul to establish a theological seminary. Kim Chai Choon arrived in Seoul and met a small group of church leaders, who expressed strong faith to continue theological education. Elder Kim Dae Hyun offered seed money and property for the new seminary.

The seminary work started with a small committee. The committee gave the seminary its name, "Chosun Theological Seminary," and appointed Rev. Kim Chai Choon as the principal of the seminary. The seminary obtained permission, which had to be renewed annually, from the provincial government as a non-academic institution. The category of the permit helped the seminary to get less attention from the Japanese government.

"Chosun Theological Seminary was born into the world of oppression and hopelessness," said Professor Kim.

Chosun Theological Seminary started its work when the Korean church was left without theological education facilities. Initially there were few students but they came from many provinces of the country. Seung Dong Presbyterian Church in Seoul kindly offered the church basement for use as lecture rooms and office space. Professor Kim lectured on several subjects including the Old Testament. A few parish pastors helped the seminary by giving lectures on various subjects.

Chosun Theological Seminary declared the principles and objectives of its theological education as follows:

1. The Seminary's educational objective is to promote its level of practice of mission work and academic exercise to the world-wide ecumenical faith community.

2. The Seminary will set a guideline to respect the traditional piety and freedom in the study of theology which would lead us to living faith according to the Gospel.

3. Let professors introduce diverse theological theories to students without imposing their own beliefs, and lead them with kindness and understanding to help them to form their own understanding within the reformed evangelical tradition.

4. The Seminary will introduce the generally accepted methods of Biblical Criticism as a tool of study of scripture.

5. The role of theology is to provide constructive ministry and to nurture the faith and ethical standard of the church. Using theology as a tool of controversy, hatred, accusations and hegemony will eventually destroy the Korean church. The Seminary advises the wider church to stop such activities.

Such theological statements were new to the Korean church. They suggest a new direction of the Korean church and proclaim that it is ready to participate in the mission of world-wide ecumenical churches. Further, it advises the Korean church to avoid the inner conflict and choose the ecumenical spirit to overcome the bias of the fundamentalists and isolationists.

Liberation of Korea and the Chosun Theological Seminary

On August 15, 1945, the Japanese government announced its surrender to the allied military commander and their own people. It was an exciting and memorable day for Koreans at home and overseas. However, what was to happen next was unexpected. The Soviet armed forces advanced into the northern part of Korea while the United States armed forces advanced into the southern part. Eventually, Korea would be divided into South and North, democracy and communism.

Large numbers of refugees from the North stormed the South. Most of the church leaders and church members had to flee to the South.

Chosun Theological Seminary was designated as the official seminary for the church by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the South in June 1946.

The seminary also received the status of a college from the military government, with permission to grant bachelor of divinity degrees. The military government allowed the seminary to occupy the property of former Tenrikyo Shinto Sect for classrooms, dormitories for the students and residences for the professors. Later, the seminary owned the property.

Kim Chai Choon who was the principal then invited Dr. Song Chang Keun to become the new principal of the seminary and Han Kyung Jik to become the professor of the New Testament. He himself remained as the professor of the Old Testament and Systematic Theology. Eventually, younger professors were invited to lecture on different subjects. Most of them were once his students in Pyung Yang and Manchuria. Song, Kim and Han had dreamed about establishing a theological institute for the Korean church since their student days in the United States, and the dream of the three theologians had become a reality.

The student body had grown to about 500 by 1948. The seminary expanded, adding departments of Christian literature and social work. Women also joined the department of theology.

The seminary did not exclude foreign missionaries from the teaching staff. The seminary issued invitations to the Mission Boards to recommend qualified lecturers. The United Church of Canada mission accepted the invitation and sent three missionaries to lecture at the seminary. Professor Kim devoted himself to lecture on the Old Testament and Systematic Theology and was pleased to be an excellent lecturer.

Professor Kim's Old Testament lectures were superb. He was the first professor in Korea to introduce the source documents of the Pentateuch, namely J (Yahwist), E (Elohist), D (Deuteronomy) and P (Priestly). Many students felt that Professor Kim provided clear answers to many bewildering Biblical questions. The lecture room was full of excitement, joy and confidence about the new discoveries. It was simply unfortunate that some students were offended by such scholarly lectures.

The Incident of Charges of Heretical Teaching

In the spring of 1947 about 50 students signed an accusation against Professor Kim Chai Choon, charging him with heresy, which they submitted to the General Assembly meeting. The charge pointed out two topics of Professor Kim's lectures, his denial of the inerrancy (inerrability) of scriptures and the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. The issue shook up the Korean church.

The General Assembly appointed a committee to investigate the charge. Professor .Kim was interviewed and asked to submit his own statement in writing. His statement read as follows:

1. I believe in the Old and New Testament and the word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and conduct.

2. I believe that the Bible is inerrant in the sense that it brings testimony of Jesus Christ Our Lord, and teaches us the way of salvation through and in Him.

He added words of regret if his Biblical interpretations caused some disturbances in the church. This controversy did not cease and actually lasted for several years.

The failure to convict Professor Kim of heresy did not end the controversy. The conservative wing with the American missionaries pursued to establish a seminary which inherited the traditions and theology of the Pyeng Yang Seminary.

Dr. Pak Hyung Nong, a graduate of the Westminster Theological Seminary, was appointed as the principal of the new seminary. Eventually, the General Assembly denied recognition to the Chosun Seminary and granted its recognition to the new seminary. They also expelled Professor Kim Chai Choon and his followers. Under the circumstances, the Korean Presbyterian Church was irrevocably divided.

Professor Kim continued his lectures in the seminary and among the intellectual community and student organizations. His lectures on Arnold J. Toynbee, Reinhold Niebuhr, Karl Barth and Emil Brunner became very popular. He became a spiritual leader who helped the people open their eyes and see the wider world. He inspired the young people to pursue their dreams and visions and to hold their hopes high.

His monthly journal, "The Crusade," which changed its title to, "The Third Day," was widely read. A reader of the journal said of Kim Chai Choon, "He is a man whose life and thought are like the firmament - high, wide, clear and vast - so that the people call him "Sage of the firmament." (Chang Gong)

The Chosun Theological Seminary was registered with its new name, the Hankuk Theological Seminary, and raised its academic quality.

The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (Christ Presbyterians), settled down as a smaller church than the Jesus Presbyterian Church, but its identity was new and attractive.

The Christ Presbyterian church took seriously its responsibility for justice, human rights, peaceful reunification and ecumenical unity of the total church. The church has produced large numbers of social activists and some of them were imprisoned for their human rights activities.

Such theological development of the Korean Church progressed under the influence of Professor Kim Chai Choon. Indeed God used a stone abandoned by the fundamentalists as the most important corner stone of the church.

The Great Loss of the Korean War

The losses in the Korean war (beginning on June 25, 1950) were staggering. Many lives Korean civilians and soldiers from the 16-nation U.N. force were sacrificed. The physical destruction on both sides was pathetic. The kidnapping of the principal Song Chang Keun by the Communist army was an enormous personal loss for Kim Chai Choon and a loss for the seminary. Professor Kim was not only sad, but discouraged by the loss of a leading member of the theological education team.

The seminary reopened in 1952 in Pusan, the city of refugees. They were allowed to return to Seoul in the fall of 1953. The teaching staff and students reunited in the seminary which reopened in ruins.

The support of the Christ Presbyterian Church and the Chosun Seminary was mutual and strong. Professor Kim was encouraged by the church and carried on to build a new seminary in an area on the outskirts of Seoul.

The United Church of Canada Invites Professor Kim to Canada

In 1958, the United Church of Canada offered Professor Kim a six-month sabbatical leave in Canada. He was the honored guest of the World Mission Board of the United Church. He attended meetings of the church at the national level and visited many congregations and the theological colleges of the United Church of Canada. His visits to the United Church paved the way for cooperation between two churches which continues today. The Union College in Vancouver, B. C. honored him with the degree of Doctor of Divinity in October 1958.

Dr. Kim's Later Years before His Retirement

Dr. Kim was reappointed as the principal of the Hankuk Theological Seminary in 1959. He had to retire from his position in 1961 in accordance with the new regulation of the military government on compulsory retirement at age 60.

The seminary honored him with the title of Principal Emeritus in 1965. That same year, he was elected as the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea. He also held numerous posi¬tions in the organization of the churches and the wider society.

He was concerned about the course of the military government which was non-democratic and dictatorial. He was appointed as the chairperson of the Citizens' Organization to oppose the Election of the Third Term of the President, General Park Chung Hee. Dr. Kim's political activities and criticism of General Park resulted in his detention under house arrest.

He as allowed to attend an international conference in Britain in the summer of 1973 and learned that the Korean government was prohibiting his re-entry into Korea. He had no choice and went to Toronto, Canada, where his children were residing.

Ten Years of Exile in Canada

The aggressions of the Korean military rule produced numerous political prisoners. It included political leaders, leaders of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches and university students.

Many of those arrested were the disciples of Dr. Kim Chai Choon. The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea and Hankuk Theological Seminary were listed as the most dangerous anti-military government organizations in the KCIA black book.

The Korean churches began to seek help from sister churches around the world. The World Council of Churches and the International Christian Organizations responded to the cry from Korean churches. The situation required someone who was able to provide correct information, identify real needs and constructive strategies to help the Korean people under the military oppression.

They found Dr. Kim Chai Choon, who had been exiled by the Korean military government and was residing in Canada. Indeed, Dr. Kim was the right person at the right time. Dr. Kim became busy organizing his schedule to visit churches in the United States, Canada and European countries. The church leaders were impressed and moved by Dr. Kim's soft-spoken presentations on the situation in Korea.

In the meantime, the Koreans in North America, Europe and Japan were inspired to organize movements for the restoration of human rights and democracy in Korea. Dr. Kim visited and encouraged them to develop their movements.

In the midst of all the international movement to support Korea, Dr. Kim was the spiritual leader. He held numerous chairmanships of organizations and advised groups such as the North American Coalition for Human Rights and Democracy in Korea. It turned out that the Korean military government expelled Dr. Kim without fully appreciating his human rights connections and his ability to organize an international network to fight on behalf of the oppressed people of Korea.

While in Canada Dr. Kim Chai Choon was busy, but managed to continue his writing. He published a six-volume autobiography. He also wrote hundreds of articles for local Korean community newspapers.

While he was in Canada, he was invited to visit North Korea. He collected the opinions of his friends in Korea and overseas. The majority of the people told him not to go, because it might cause additional oppression of his friends in Korea. He did encourage the overseas Koreans to develop the movement for the reunification of Korea. He committed himself to this movement in writing and participation of some activities.

The Canadian government was sympathetic about his difficulty in travelling on an expired Korean passport. The Korean embassies and consulates refused to issue a new passport. The Canadian government granted Dr. Kim landed immigrant status and eventually he became a Canadian citizen. A Canadian passport was helpful for his human rights activities and international travel.

Canada almost became his home. Two of his daughters and two of his sons and their children were residing in Ontario. He loved his children and family and was beloved by them. The family wanted him to stay in Canada. His colleagues, disciples, the seminary and the church constantly urged him to return to Korea. They wanted him to spend the rest of his life in his motherland. His heart seemed torn in two, but he decided to return to Korea.

He arrived in Seoul in September 1983 and was reunited with his youngest son and his family. He received a warm welcome from his friends and church.

The Restless Man Enters His Eternal Rest

His last four years were a blessed time. He had large numbers of visitors and he wielded his brush to produce hundreds of hanging scrolls. People treasured these scrolls, hanging them in places of honor in their homes. He started to translate the Holy Scriptures into Chinese, but was unable to complete very much of the task. He was hospitalized and passed away on January 27, 1987 at the age of 86.

The inscription on his tombstone says, "Let your "Yes," be "Yes" and your "No," "No!"

Indeed, he was an honest and courageous man who was able to say "Yes" and "No" clearly.

Some Observations of Dr. Kim's Life

A) Dr. Kim was a great writer. His complete works were published in 18 volumes a total of 8,184 pages was published. People say his pen was sharper than his tongue. He translated voluminous theological works into Korean.

B) Dr. Kim was a warm-hearted pastor. He served the parish of the Kyungdong Presbyterian Church in Seoul, between 1945 and 1956. The membership of the congregation was mostly young students and academics. The topics and content of his sermons were challenging and fresh. It inspired the listeners to deepen their insight of the truth and helped them to develop their spirit of creativity. He welcomed many visitors at his office or residence and made them comfortable and feel free to talk. In his later days, he visited his disciples at their parish and became the Pastor for the Pastors. He appeared to be a sensitive pastor and a warm-hearted father for his people.

C) He was a brilliant, thoughtful theologian, but he did not identify himself with any single theological school. Some labelled him as a neo-orthodox theologian or liberal theologian, but they usually realized that it was impossible to lock Dr. Kim in a theological school is not possible because of his unique approach in theology. The students who had the experience of sitting in his lecture room felt that Dr. Kim had the spiritual wisdom to create a new understanding of Christian theology that absorbed Western theology and Korean traditional spirituality. Dr. Kim was an inclusive, not exclusive theologian. In him the West and East met and brought forth a new spiritual fruit. He may be deserving of the title of "A Wise Korean Theologian."

D) Dr. Kim was convinced that the Christian church has social responsibilities. He encouraged churches to participate in social life, nation-building and global peace-making. He claimed that the Christian church cannot neglect the issues of human rights, freedom, justice, and peace. He had to suffer to keep up his theological principles, but he had no regrets about it.


It was understood that this biography will be a section of the book which will include Dr. Kim's writings. It is intended that this brief summary of Dr. Kim's life and contribution to the church in Korea will entice the reader to delve more deeply into Dr. Kim's theological writings. I have not quoted Dr. Kim's writings, in order to avoid overlapping with other sections of this book.

Sep. 2004

The Very Rev. Dr. Lee Sang Chul

(Pfarrer i.R. LEE Sang Chul lebt in Canada. Er ist der Schwiegersohn von Dr. Kim)


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Wissenschaftliche Monographien zum Alten und Neuen Testament 13.
Neukirchener Verlag 1963.
168 Seiten (2. durchges. Aufl. 1956)

Mission in neutestamentlicher Sicht
Aufsätze, Vorträge und Predigten (MW.NF 8),
Erlangen 1999, 143 Seiten.

Theologie des Neuen Testaments, Teil 1
Jetzt auch in jap. Übersetzung bei: Kyodan, Tokyo 2006