Original Research - Special Collection: Practical Theology

The challenge that Confucian filial piety poses for Korean churches

David M. Park, Julian C. Müller
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 70, No 2 | a1959 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i2.1959 | © 2014 David M. Park, Julian C. Müller | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 March 2013 | Published: 30 April 2014

About the author(s)

David M. Park, Department of Practical Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Julian C. Müller, Department of Practical Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Contemporary ancestor worship is currently practiced around the world in several different forms. However, the essence and practice of ancestor worship varies throughout Asia, Africa, Oceania and Latin America. The context of countries under the influence of Confucianism is very different from that of other countries. Confucianism teaches that ancestor worship is the most prized display of filial piety toward one’s dead ancestors. Amongst Asian countries under the influence of Confucianism – specifically China, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and Korea – ancestor worship has not only been accepted and propagated as a culture, but it is also considered to be filial piety. Especially the Korean people think that ancestor worship is a very important expression of filial piety, and it is a ritual which they practice regularly during their festive days. What does Confucianism teach about filial piety, and how is ancestor worship practiced? What does the Bible teach about filial piety? Are practical applications of biblical filial piety present in Korean society? Rather than allowing Confucian ancestor worship to take root in Korean society as a traditional Korean heritage, the conclusion is that Korean Christians must make an effort to teach and facilitate biblical filial piety.

Keywords

Korean churches; Confucianism; China

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