In korean society, organized services such as the provision of free meals or shelters to live for homeless people in only began to be provided in 1997, following the financial crisis. Prior to this, some churches and other Christian organizations were involved in providing social welfare for the homeless population. The local government and the State only supported them indirectly by providing emergency aid. In 2005, the enactment of special laws for the managerial regulation of shelters for the homeless made this division of roles between the Korean church and the State more firm. However, only a few churches and Christians have participated in this social mission; most of the population has ignored the existence of the homeless, and the current socio-economic system has contributed towards producing this trend.
To overcome the disparities between the churches in Korea and to aim for more active responsibility in public spheres, this study aims at creating a new system of Christian ethics founded on the beliefs of Paul Ricoeur, who stressed on the relationship between politics and ethics, the government and the church. From the point of view of this protestant philosopher, who was one of the greatest leaders in the movement for Christian socialism in France, the modern welfare State based on humanity is not in opposition to the kingdom of God, but is rather a form of the realization of his kingdom. This study researches whether this Ricoeurian argument follows the traditional point of view on politics and the Church, like the arguments of the saints Paul and Augustine. With regard to solving the problems of the homeless that are beyond the scope of the ethical capacity of churches and individual Christians, this study agrees with Ricoeur that the social mission of the Church must work with the social welfare policies of the State.
This study contains four chapters. In the first two chapters, we compare Ricoeur and the non Christian philosophers Heidegger and Levinas to more explicitly justify the theological validity of the Ricoeurian ethics. The first chapter examines the ontology of habitation, and the second chapter examines the ethics of the Other. The third chapter, which is the main chapter in this study, examines the relationship between the State and the Church according to the ethics of Ricoeur. The last chapter will analyze the extent of the social services provided by Korean churches to the homeless, and propose reform measures.