Weberian Approach to the Theology of Yong-Gi Cho
RC 16, Session on
Revisiting Weber and Habermas on Rationality and Compathy from Asian Perspective
Professor, Seoul National University, Department of the Sociology
Abstract: In this article, I attempts at discussing some interesting themes underlying the theology of Pastor Cho Yong-gi. Having founded Yoido Full Gospel Church which is the biggest mega-church in the world as charismatic leader of Korean protestantism, he systematized a singular theology articulating the pentecostal religiosity and Korean tradition religiosity. It is usually called the theology of three-fold blessing and five-fold gospel. His spirituality is characterized by the accent put on this-worldly prosperity and success, on the quasi-material force of the Holy Spirit, and also on the positive mindset moulded by the religious practices. This kind of theological doctrines articulated with practices of worship and ministry typical to Full Gospel church rhymes perfectly with the developmental mentality of Korean modernity which reigned in the middle of the 20th century. It is in this sense that the meaning of Pastor Cho’s theology overflows the boundaries of the christianity. It can be interpreted as the “spirit of Korean modernity”, let alone Korean capitalism. Drawing on Max Weber’s perspective of the capitalist spirit, I will explore the way how Cho’s theological doctrines and practices constituted a specific Korean modern ‘regime of the heart’, and produced a singular type of subject, a strange conjunction of radical passivity towards the irresistible and of radical activity towards the secular world.
Key words. Yong-Gi Cho, theology of problems, theology of blessings, Korean modernity.