The Making of Korean Christianity

in Alumni Profiles and News, Announcements, Publications
September 6th, 2013

Dr. Sung-Deuk Oak, a School of Theology graduate in 2002, has recently published a new book on Korean Christianity, entitled: The Making of Korean Christianity: Protestant Encounters with Korean Religions, 1876-1915 (Baylor University Press, 2013). The book is the first volume of the Studies of World Christianity of Nagel Institute Calvin College and Baylor University Press.

More information on this exciting new publication can be found below:



A major catalyst for the growth of Korean Christianity occurred at the turn of the twentieth century when Western missionaries encountered the religious landscape of Korea. These first-generation missionaries have been framed as destroyers of Korean religion and culture. Yet, as Sung-Deuk Oak shows in The Making of Korean Christianity, existing Korean religious tradition also impacted the growth and character of evangelical Christianity. The melding of indigenous Korean religions and Christianity led to a highly localized Korean Christianity that flourished in the early modern era. The Making of Korean Christianity sorts fact from myth in this exhaustive examination of the local and global forces that shaped Christianity on the Korean Peninsula.


Table of Contents

Illustrations, Tables, Diagrams, and Maps

Preface and Acknowledgments



1 God: Search for the Korean Name for God, Hanănim

2 Saviors: Images of the Cross and Messianism

3 Spirits: Theories of Shamanism and Practice of Exorcism

4 Ancestors: Confucian and Christian Memorial Services

5 Messages: Chinese Literature and Korean Translations

6 Rituals: Revivals and Prayers








“This groundbreaking study is the best book written on the development of Korean Christianity. Oak traces the early encounter between Protestant missionaries and Korean religions and moves the scholarship in new, deeper directions. The Making of Korean Christianity is required reading.”

–Dana L. Robert, Truman Collins Professor of World Christianity and History of Mission, Boston University.


The Making of Korean Christianity is the most comprehensive and significant contribution to the study of Protestant Christianity in Korea that has appeared in a generation. Oak challenges the received academic discourse on the first generation of Christians and shows how early Korean Protestants dealt with sophisticated issues in theology and religious practice to arrive at their own solutions in the process of cultural encounter. This book will be the principal source in English on this period of Korean Church history for many years.”

–James H. Grayson, Emeritus Professor of Modern Korean Studies, The University of Sheffield.


The Making of Korean Christianity is a remarkable book. Oak moves beyond the conventional stereotypical view of the early Christian missionaries in Korea and expounds a deeper understanding of dealing with the missionaries’ encounter with indigenous Korean religions. I highly recommended this book not only for those who are interested in the history of Christianity in Korea but also for the scholars and students of Korean spirituality and religious traditions and inter-religious dialogue in Korea.”

–Young-chan Ro, Professor and Chair, Department of Religious Studies and Director, Korean Studies Center, George Mason University.

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