Winter 2003
Volume 7 Number 2
 

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Forrester said that only once before this inSpire interview had the press asked him much about his faith, and he was glad it didn’t happen more often.
“The third commandment [‘You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God’] is not primarily about foul language,” said Forrester, “but about dragging God into our language to use him as a source for our own vindication and justification—not theological justification, but as justification for one’s own actions…. The wisdom of this commandment is that it is meant to preclude us from speaking as if God is on our side—from using God, in other words. I try to be very mindful of that in the public arena.”

Soaries agreed.

 

Sang Chang, who earned her Ph.D. from Princeton Seminary in 1977 and has been president since 1996 of Ewha Womans University, Korea’s most prestigious and the world’s largest women’s university, was appointed acting prime minister of Korea in July, named by president Dae Jung Kim. After weeks of controversy and attacks from the opposition party, in part because Chang as a woman represented a sea change in Korean politics, Chang’s nomination was not confirmed by the National Assembly.
Although she has had no experience in politics, Chang said that Korean Christians are “very active members of society, and believe it is important to participate in the political realm.” President Kim had several times asked Chang to be in his cabinet, but she had declined because of her duties at Ewha. “This time my term as president of Ewha was near an end,” she explained, “and so I accepted. I want to help Korea become a more fair and just society. I also know that Korea is behind in terms of women’s participation in leadership in society, and I felt it my calling to encourage women by stepping forward myself.”
The defeat of her nomination was difficult for Chang, particularly the airing of opposition charges in the media. “This was much more difficult than I thought,” she said. “But as a Christian one must accept the challenge to serve as one feels called, and the prayers of many in my country and around the world have sustained me.”
Chang is taking a sabbatical from Ewha and working on an autobiography explaining how her faith has led her life. She will return to teach Pauline theology at Ewha next year.
She and her husband, Joon Surh Park (Class of 1978, Ph.D.), are delighted that their son Chan Sok Park is a junior at PTS this year.

“I am very sensitive to and careful about this notion of whether or not God is on my side,” he said, “because that makes me nervous. I used to do Bible studies and chapel services for the New York Giants some years ago. The year they won the Super Bowl was the year that I probably did the majority of their games. Parcells was coach then. I knew that the Giants chaplain ministry took great pride in rotating chaplains; they didn’t want to get locked into any one person. But then I discovered that Coach Parcells was superstitious. The more they won, the more he wanted to keep the formula, which included me. So I became a part of the formula. But when I found out, I kind of resented it, because I think that cheapens God.

“The analogy,” Soaries continued, “is that I try to say and do nothing that would give people the impression that my candidacy is endorsed by God. Now, having said that, I do want people to know that I feel perfectly comfortable, within the context of pursuing God’s will for my life, to be running for office. But I cannot predict that God wants me to win. I certainly don’t want anyone to think that God wants them to vote for me. But I want them to have the opportunity to vote for someone whose faith informs his politics. And if that’s important to them, then that’s who I am. If they resent that, that’s still who I am. If they support me, I don’t want them to support me for that reason, but they should know who I am. So it’s a very thin line.”

Very thin, but also monumentally important when it comes to relations between state and church.
“Faith is often used to manipulate people,” warns Hunsinger. “But if people are really steeped in the Word of God, they should be inoculated against easy ways of sacrilizing politics and injustice and oppression. Calvin would have been very helpful to us on this; he didn’t promote that kind of thing. The way people blend patriotism and piety together is very problematic. I strongly feel that it is inappropriate to have American flags inside Christian sanctuaries. I don’t think there should be any national flag in a Christian sanctuary.”

Hunsinger pointed to the catastrophic mistake of the German church’s allowing nationalism and religion to become too closely allied in the 1930s and 1940s, an alliance that included prolific Nazi paraphernalia in churches.

“The flag in the American sanctuary is a real symbol of acculturation and the kind of blurred consciousness of what it means to be a Christian and what it means to be an American citizen,” he says. “There’s a presumption of a perfect fit between the two, and I don’t think we can make that presumption. Karl Barth [in the tense post-WWII atmosphere] called the church to neutrality between East and West during the Cold War. In an anticommunist ethos, [calling the Western church to take that political stand] was scandalous. But he was profoundly concerned about the outbreak of nuclear war. That’s the kind of desacrilizing move that I think the church needs to make.”

Continued on Page 4
 

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