Islamophobia and Evangelism
Islamophobia has tended to be present among Christians in Korea. Phobia is a pathological form of fear, which often easily captivates people"s emotion and behaviors. Extreme fear causes us Christians to risk the traditional virtues such as hospitality, peacemaking, generosity, and more importantly evangelistic love. The Korean society has been faced with the "rush of Muslims" who mostly come as laborers from Middle East and Africa in recent times. This paper begins with exploration into the background reasons of islamophobia among Korean Christians. First, it may stem from the historical rival relationship between Christianity and Islam dating back to the Middle Ages in Middle East and Africa. Expecially, there is suspicion that it is Muslims that have tried to persecute and conquer Christians. Second, Muslims are often and wrongly regarded as responsible for the growing terrorism. Third, there is some worried awareness that Islam targets Korea for Islamic mission with systemic strategies. Also, the global world in the twenty first century has been suffering from the increase of terrorism, and there is widespread impression that most terrorist attacks are connected to Islam fundamentalism. Fourth, I suspect that islamophobia may not be generated in part by the Korean church"s struggle with its internal crisis and attempts to overcome it.
This paper then deals with the Christian and missional approaches to the culture of fear. To begin with, we need to have a larger perspective that contemporary Korean society easily generates the culture of fear among populace. Then this paper proposes the Christian approach to fear and phobia with. For example, fear needs be in a right place, that is, to fear God, not anything else. Also, fear is other side of the same coin. On the basis of this understanding we can think of the ways in which we develop the missional attitude towards Muslims without falling into a phobia.
In conclusion, I offer three evangelistic principles for Korean Christians as we try to overcome islamophobia. The first is an evangelism of hospitality which guides us in seeing Muslims as strangers who need to be welcomed and placed in our society. We need to be reminded that it is more than often that strangers give us wisdom and growth. Above all, the main reason why we practice hospitality is because God has been hospitable towards us. Thus it is our prime duty to do hospitality in order to follow God"s will and character. The second is peacemaking evangelism, which will humble us to be more gentle and understanding towards those who are different from us. As St. Francis showed a peacemaking evangelism to a Sultan during a crusade campaign, we need to seriously consider an way in which we can share the gospel with Muslims peacefully and respectfully. A preconceived judgment or suspicion of them may run the risk of breaking peace between Christians and Muslims. Third, while pursuing hospitality and peacemaking, we need to endeavor a proper evangelism which promotes Christian faith. However, this evangelism needs to be understandable and contextual to Muslims. We can develop a common ground for a missional dialogue since Islamic faith shares in common with Christianity such as the use of the Bible, Jesus the prophet, and monotheism. This would give us apologetic strategic points, although there are significant differences between Christianity and Islam. I would call his evangelistic principel "emphatic evangelism" if it is added to hospitality and peacemaking.