Protestant Educators

Picture of Joon K. Un

JOON KWAN UN (December 9, 1933 - ) is a Korean Methodist minister, Christian educator, and theologian, whose theology of education and commitment to the church have greatly influenced Korean Christian education. He is a retired professor of Christian education of Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea. Currently, he is the president of the Graduate School of Practical Theology in Korea, an ecumenical graduate school that he founded. Un is particularly known for his work in conceptualizing the theology of education in Korea, and focusing attention on religious education as a cutting edge theological discipline. For Un, theology must be coupled with praxis: ministry and theological reflection, Christian faith and social responsibility go hand in hand. This conviction is integral to Un's understanding of teaching and ministry, and the reason why many Korean Christians revere Un as the godparent of Korean Christian education. He has also made major contributions in collaboration with Christian educators in the United States and Canada on curriculum projects and theological dialogue about education.

Biography

Joon Kwan Un was born on December 9, 1933, in Ong Jin, Korea, which now is in North Korea. His parents were not highly educated, but they were wealthy. So unlike many Koreans who lived in poverty during imperial Japanese occupation, Un grew up in a relatively comfortable home. His family did not adhere to any religious tradition, nor were they Christian. It was not until Un met The Rev. Yong Ik Park that Un developed an interest in religion, including Christianity. The Rev. Park, who was the father of one of Un's 5th grade classmates, taught Un Christian faith and social responsibility for his nation and people. Particularly, The Rev. Park emphasized the reestablishment of the nation through agricultural revolution. So as a lad, Un was determined to become a leader in that revolution, and he eventually matriculated at the Seoul Agricultural High School.

When Un was a junior in high school, the Korean War broke out and he returned to his hometown. There Un joined a student guerilla organization to fight against North Korea; herewith Un experienced firsthand the human potential for destruction. Un says,

On every island in the Ong-Jin area, high schoolers and college students organized student guerillas. I was only in the 11th grade. For almost two years, I, as a student soldier, saw too many deaths. And I was not even a regular soldier. Many of my friends were killed, and I myself escaped from near death several times. During these days I was completely doubtful about life and almost gave up on it. Notwithstanding that, I also experienced the persistency of human life (Choi, 1988, p. 147).

After the war was over, Un did not return to Seoul to finish high school immediately; rather he agonized over the meaning of life, and was in despair for more than a year. When he finally finished high school, several ministers recommended theological studies at the Methodist Theological College; however, for Un, studying theology was the last thing he wanted to do. Although he was still attending church, he no longer believed in God.

In retrospect, Un says that something mysterious led him to the Methodist Theological College. He found it hard to focus on his studies, however, because the war was on his mind. Moreover, he suffered from hunger, and war refugees from North Korea were everywhere. Thus he could not justify studying theology, and he decided to leave school.

Un then met another significant person of his life. It was Ms. Stockton, an elderly American missionary who came to the Methodist Theological College as a Christian education professor. Ms. Stockton had tremendous confidence in Un, a bright but wandering theological student. She mentored him through prayer, encouragement, and financial support. Thanks to her loving concern, Un says that he came to enjoy theological studies thoroughly, and he found new relevance for what he was learning. After college, he was ordained and served as an Army chaplain for three and a-half years. During those years, Ms. Stockton's care continued. As a token of his appreciation for Ms. Stockton's love and steadfastness, Un decided to study Christian education, a discipline for which he then had limited enthusiasm. As a young man struggling with life's big questions in a war torn nation, Un was hard-pressed to master skills and techniques for Sunday school (Lim, 1992, p. 146). Even so, in 1960 Un went to Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina, and pursued a Master of Religious Education degree.

At Duke, Un encountered a completely different world. The first class he took was called Theology of the Holy Spirit and Christian Education. Through a dialogue between theology and Christian education, Un realized that Christian education is a serious theological discipline with profoundly academic methodologies. Un developed a passion for Christian education and decided to pursue further theological studies in Christian education. At that point, Un changed his degree program from a MRE to a Th.M so that he could focus on both systematic theology, especially Karl Barth's theology, and Christian education.

After finishing his Th.M at Duke, Un moved to Berkeley, California, to earn a Doctor of Theology at Pacific School of Religion (PSR). At PSR, Un focused on campus ministry, ecclesiology and the Christianity's educational mission. These interests were formulated into his doctoral thesis, entitled The Christian Community as Mission-event in the Theology of Karl Barth. Un also put his theological and theoretical research into practice. While he was working on his thesis, Un became minister of the Chicago Korean Methodist Church, and the Director of the Korean Youth Center in Chicago, Illinois. This inaugurated Un's lifelong effort to balance theory and praxis, theology and ministry, higher education and the church (Lim, 1992, p. 147). In 1968, Un received a Th.D degree and returned to Korea to teach at his alma mater as a professor of Christian education.

xxxxxxxDuring his tenure at the Methodist Theological College and Seminary (1968 to 1974), Un devoted himself to the establishment of Christian education as a reputable theological discipline and to the improvement of the church through education (Lim, 1992, pp. 147-150). He published numerous articles on educational theories, ones that challenged clergy and laity to see that Christian education is more than Sunday school for children: it invites and involves the whole church in new approaches to ministry. Moreover, Un established and became the first director of the Christian Education Institute at the Methodist Seminary. With his associates there, Un conducted three significant projects for Korean Christian education: (1) an experimental Christian education program for secondary school students (1969-1973); (2) a comprehensive study of the education of the Korean church; and (3) a comprehensive study of Methodist junior and senior high schools (1972). Among these, the study of the Korean church's education made a great impact on Korean curricula across denominations. Then, from 1973 to 1975, Un worked with 15 Methodist churches in the greater Seoul area to develop and test a new curriculum through ongoing training sessions for teachers. This experimental curriculum was the official curriculum of the Korean Methodist Church until 1996. The curriculum had a three-year cycle and had separate text books for teachers and students, which were then new ideas for Korean churches. Since this curriculum was so successful, many other denominations used it as a model for their new curriculum (Un, 1975). In sum, Un's research and praxis were not separated from each other. Instead they were "checks and balances" for each other.xxxxxx

In 1975, Un made a big shift in his praxis. He took the Senior Minister's position at Chung Dong Methodist Church, the oldest church in Korea. He put his ongoing research on ecclesiology and Christian education into practice in a parish. Here Un's educational ministries for the development of lay leadership became significant for his later work. Particularly, Un's Wednesday Bible study class is noteworthy. It was an intensive study that covered all of the books in the Bible in a three-year time frame (Un, 1988, pp. 298-299). Unlike most other Bible studies of that time, lecture-oriented studies to be led by clergy, Un used media and other participatory teaching methods, an approach that invited the participation of laity. The study was done from the perspective of salvation history, and it put the text's relevance against the backdrop of the entire Bible. This approach helped laity to understand the Bible from a larger context, one with a far-reaching theological perspective, in contrast to the rote memorization of verses, which was the popular approach for many churches. The experience and success of this novel approach to Bible study was later incorporated into the Total Bible Curriculum that Un and other theologians and Christian educators developed for the Korean church. In 1976, Un's second year at the Chung Dong church, Un made another significant contribution to the Korean church. He published an award winning book, Theology of Education, in which he defined Christian education as a theological discipline itself, rather than as an attendant spirit to other mainstream disciplines. Even today, this book is the most widely used text book for Korean Christian education.

In 1979, Un returned to academia, joining the faculty of the Theology Department at Yonsei University, one of the most prestigious universities in Korea. Here Un's research and praxis continued to broaden (Lim, 1992, p. 150). In 1988, Un published another important book for Korean Christian education, The Context of Christian Education. Integrating his parish ministry experiences with research on ecclesiology, Un made practical proposals for the future of the Korean church. This concern for the Korean church was continued in another two books, Theological Ecclesiology and Practical Ecclesiology. In these books, Un asserts that the mission of the church is to be responsible for the reign of God in history. Un defines the role of Christian education as historical transformation, helping the faithful to be responsible.

Un published several series of literature for laity, especially for Sunday school teachers: Church School Teachers (1982) and Educating Sunday School Teachers (1984). He also offered ongoing training programs across denominations and regions. For clergy education, Un established an ecumenical educational institute, the Total Bible Curriculum (TBC) Institute in 1988. From the perspective of salvation history, Un and other theologians of the Bible, church history and Christian education wrote a Bible study curriculum. In addition to textbooks for clergy and laity, the curriculum had video tapes for each of its 104 lessons. The curriculum was used by 700 churches involving 100,000 laity as of 2002 (www.tbcbible.org). Moreover, to help clergy become better teachers, the institute facilitated educational seminars for over 1000 ministers in Korea and abroad from 1990 to 1997. Under Un's leadership, the institute has grown as one of the key educational institutions in the Korean church. In sum and during his tenure at Yonsei, Un's quest for a balance between theology and the church, and between research and practice were crystallized through prolific writing and application.

Although Un is well known in academia, he is not a stranger to the Korean church. Rather than waiting for the clergy and the laity to come to him for advice, Un actively seeks them out. He travels all over the Korea and abroad to offer workshops and teaching programs for Sunday school teachers, lay leaders, and the clergy. As a result, there are many Christian scholars who have been influenced by Un in Korean and Korean-North American communities. Among them are professors Jae Eun Kim of Seoul Methodist Theological College and Seminary; Young Taek Lim of Hyup Sung University in Korea; Paul H. Chang, who is the executive director of the United Methodist Council on Korean American Ministries, and Boyung Lee of Pacific School of Religion at the Graduate Theological Union, who is the author of this essay.

Upon his retirement from Yonsei in 1999, Un started another major project. He established an ecumenical graduate school for ministry, the Graduate School of Practical Theology. He currently serves as its first president. It is a post graduate theological institution whose major purpose is to retrain clergy so they can revive ministry and theology in the Korean church (Nam, 2003, p. 4). With several leading ministers of major denominations in the Korean church, Un first conceived of this graduate school in 1997, and the school received its first students in the spring of 2005. One unique feature of the school is that it boasts an international faculty, including Mary Elizabeth Moore of Emory University and Karen Tucker of Duke University. Un hopes that Korean ministers will develop critical thinking and a broad perspective in this intensive program with international engagement. As he did in the past, Un continues to work hard to let his theology, pedagogy and dreams unfold, thus to help other ministers respond to God's call to build the reign of Christ in and beyond the local church and the denominational Korean church, so that it includes the whole cosmos.

Un is similarly visionary for the academic community. In addition to international collaborations on projects, such as the Total Bible Curriculum, and speaking frequently in the United States and Canada, Un has been active in the International Academy of Practical Theology. He hosted and planned the program for the Academy's first meeting outside of Western Europe and North America, thus contributing once again to international networks and the process of expanding largely Western networks to include Asia and the larger world.


Contributions to Christian Education

Among the many contributions that Un made to Christian education, the foremost is conceptualizing Christian education as a theological discipline and situating it front and center for Koreans. In the midst of debates about the nature of Christian education in the Korean church (e.g., whether it is theology or education), Un defined Christian education as an academic discipline that borrows from and is in dialogue with a spectrum of theological and educational theories (1976, p. 13). Hereto Un's scholarship is methodical, defining Christian education as a theological discipline (Theology of education); outlining and analyzing the setting (The context of Christian education), and providing theological foundations for educational practice (Theological ecclesiology and Practical ecclesiology).

Un's approach to Christian education has always been straightforward and abundantly clear. As stated above, Un's first exposure to Christian education - that is, before he contributed his own monumental work - was in Sunday school and its how-tos. Then, after returning from the United States and exposure to Christian education as theology, Un concluded that Korean Christian education was overly limited to children's development: and it lacked an interest in broader contexts, such as Korean culture and its people (Un, 1968 a; 1969 a; 1969 b; 1969 c; 1969 e; 1973 c). Un concluded that the fundamental problem of the Korean church was that Korea's process of industrialization and modernization resulted in a lack of self-consciousness and critical reflection. The church thus did not have the wherewithal to recognize its loss while it was happening (1976, p. 433).

Accordingly, the task that Un took for the Korean church was to provide theological foundations through education. Using a theological perspective, Un helped Korean Christians understand their unique context, thus to develop appropriate theological frameworks. Thence, the goal of education is to participate in God's work in the world and the fulfillment of God's reign. For this, Un insists that Christian education should help people see their identity as God's people (1999, p. 389). One of the fruits of his efforts was the publication of the award winning book, Theology of Education. In this book, Un gives an in-depth analysis of different types of Christian ideologies and their pedagogical characteristics through history. Un invites the Korea church to develop its unique theological framework and educational methodology. Thanks to Un's book, the theological nature of Christian education is esteemed as integral to Korean theological discourse.

Un's other contribution is the theological establishment and validation of theorizing about the context of Christian education. Un redefines the meaning of context as a three dimensional space: physical, socio-psychological, and transformational (1988 a). The physical context, which he calls the first dimension of the context, means a physical place and location where educational activity is literally happening. The socio-psychological context, the second dimension, means interaction and relationships that people create and build through educational activities. Without authentic meetings between teacher and students, and among students themselves, good education can rarely happen. To facilitate educational activities that simultaneously create sound and deep relationships among people, Christian education should include explicit dialogues with other disciplines, especially with educational and social-psychological theories and research.

The third dimension is the space where people experience transformation through the love and grace of God. After defining the context as such, Un proposes that the task of Christian education is to structure intentionally the context so that such transformational encounters with God can happen. Moreover, through theological analyses of different models of community in the Bible, Un challenges the Korean church to see various forms of transformative contexts that are beyond the walls of explicit religious communities, such as family, school, and the larger society. He also argues that the church should provide appropriate Christian education for each of these contexts through kerygma, didache, koinonia, and diaconia. In other words, and as Maria Harris does in the U.S. context, Un has an eschatology that is immediate and far-reaching. He urges the Korean church to transform itself and, with God's grace, the world in the process:

Education means everything we do to help all the people of God, who are participating in the reign of God that already came through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is still coming; to learn to discern the reign of God and finally to dedicate themselves to it. (1999, p. 389)

Through theological analyses of the context of Christian education, Un helps people conceptualize symbioses between Christian education and theology, especially ecclesiology in the Korean church. In his writings and lectures, Un often questions why the Korean church has not played a key role in social changes in Korean society, especially given its great size and ability. Why is it so trapped in personal salvation that it refuses to effect social change - a cultural, contextual change - for these same people?

According to Un, the Korean church sees itself as the core of Christianity separated from the world outside of the church. Thus its worldview is small, conceptually blocking the reign of God from permeating history (1998, p. 432). Un urges the Korean church to fashion a new ecclesiology, one that moves from church-centeredness (the mainline) and Minjung-centeredness (Minjung church) to a continuum of "God's Reign-History-Church." The church, from this new perspective, is an eschatological community that helps people participate in the reign of God in history. The Christian education of this eschatological community envisions the historical transformation of the people and their context (1999, p. 389). As Un unfolds his ecclesiology of eschatological-historical community in his two books on ecclesiology, Theological Ecclesiology and Practical Ecclesiology, Un brings vast historical and theological information and interpretation to the contemporary Korean theological and Christian education contexts. Since Un's books are now widely used in systematic and other areas of theology, and Un himself continually creates theological forums for open discussions through his institutes and graduate school, Un promotes interdisciplinary dialogue and diverse theological methods among Korean theologians.

Un's efforts to establish the context are not limited to theological discussions and research in the academy. Un also extensively published educational literature for laity. Further, he authored several curricula. For example, Educating Sunday School Teachers, a series of 10 volumes on Christian education that Un edited, is one of the most widely used resources for laity in the Korean church. As stated above, the curriculum he designed through experimental research with partner congregations was used as the official curriculum of the Korean Methodist church until the 1990s. Moreover, Un founded several institutions for lay and clergy education, such as the Christian Education Institute of the Methodist Seminary of Seoul and the TBC Bible Institute. Through these institutes, Un interacts with practitioners, analyzes contexts, creates and revises appropriate programs and publications, and offers engaged teaching programs. Through one-on-one contacts with others, Un hears the voices of the people, then reflects theologically on their concerns. The result directly benefits the church by broadening the scope and relevance of Un's work. Thus, Un is a very familiar name to many Korean laity. He is a theologian of praxis.

Another contribution is Un's ecumenical approach to Christian education. The TBC Bible Institute and Graduate School of Practical Theology that Un founded are ecumenical institutes for lay and clergy education. Their instructors, students, board members, member churches and authors are from many different denominations. To Westerners, this ecumenical constituency is commonplace; however it is atypical for the Korean church. One of the most serious and unsolved problems that Korean Protestant churches face is factionalism (Noh, 1989, pp. 39-73). Since national independence in 1945, the Korean Protestant church has split into more than one hundred and sixty denominations (Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Korea 2000), infused with debates about one theology versus another. In spite of some efforts for reunion, church splitting has continued. Each denomination, no matter how small it is, has its own seminary so that its ministers are trained by its own church and theology. Hence Un's ecumenical work, albeit small, is a significant movement toward the union of the church as new clergy and laity are introduced to an ecumenical spirit and theology.

Works Cited

  • Nam, J. Y. (2003, February 4). Faith! There should be a constant self-reflection. A dialogue with Un Joon Kwan. Christian Times, p. 4.
  • Lim, Y. T. (1992). Understanding the theology of education of Un Joon Kwan. Sinhack Nondan, Theology Forum, 26, 143-189.
  • Christian Journal (1989). A passionate theologian of education, Un Joon Kwan. Christian Journal, September, 54-56.
  • Choi, K. W. (1988, December). Let us be honest before God: An interview with Un Joon Kwan. Wolgan Mokhoi, Monthly Ministry, 142, 144-157.
  • Our senior ministers through the years. The history of the Chung Dong Korean Methodist Church. Available from http://chungdong.org/record/main.asp?gab=1_3
  • The history of the Gradate School of Practical Theology. Available from www.gspt.ac.kr.
  • Noh, C. J. (1989). Factionalism of the Korean church. In Won-Gue Lee (Ed.), Korean church and society (pp. 39-73). Seoul: Nathan Press.
  • Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Korea. "Statistics of Major Protestant Denominations in Korea." [Available Online]. Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Korea [Cited 31 July 2003]. Available from http://www.mct.go.kr/cgi-bin/nph-hwp2html/tonggye/tonggye-data2/gyodan%5B1%5D.hwp.
  • Un, J. K. (1999). Practical ecclesiology. Seoul: The Christian Literature Society of Korea.
  • Un, J. K. (1998). Theological ecclesiology. Seoul: The Christian Literature Society of Korea.
  • Un, J. K. (1988). Contexts of Christian education. Seoul: The Korean Christian Publishing Company.
  • Un, J. K. (1984). Educating Sunday school teachers. 10 vols. The series editor. Seoul: The Christian Literature Society of Korea.
  • Un, J. K. (1976). Theology of education. Seoul: The Korean Christian Literature Society.
  • Un, J. K. (1973). Theology of education. Communication, July, 63-76.
  • Un, J. K. (1969). Christian education and theology: Their relationships. Saegajeong, New Family, December, 19-23.
  • Un, J. K. (1969). Christian education for the transformation of human beings. Kidokkyo Segae, The Christian World, October, 4.
  • Un, J. K. (1969). Christian responsibilities for higher education. Kidokkyo Sasang, Christian Thought, 129 (February), 56-66.
  • Un, J. K. (1969). The educational task of the church. Kidokkyo Kyoyuk, Christian Education, January, 28-32.
  • Un, J. K. (1968). Theology and education. Kyohoe wa Kyoyuk, The Church and Education, December, 6-7.

Bibliography

Books (All in Korean)

  • Un, J. K. (1999). Practical ecclesiology. Seoul: The Christian Literature Society of Korea.
  • Un, J. K. (1998). Theological ecclesiology. Seoul: The Christian Literature Society of Korea.
  • Un, J. K. (1988). Contexts of Christian education. Seoul: The Korean Christian Publishing Company.
  • Un, J. K. (1986 a). A Methodist theology of education: The nature and practice of Christian education. Seoul: The Board of Education of the Korean Methodist Church.
  • Un, J. K. (1984 a). A Colloquium of Christian education. Co-authored with In Tak Oh, Woongseop Chung, Yong Soo Ko, and Jae Eun Kim. Seoul: The Korean Association of Christian Education.
  • Un, J. K. (1984 b). Educating Sunday school teachers. 10 vols. The series editor. Seoul: The Christian Literature Society of Korea.
  • Un, J. K. (1982 a). The church • mission • education. Seoul: Chun Mang Sa.
  • Un, J. K. (1982 b). Church school teachers. Co-authored with Sun Ae Joo and Seung Hee Sohn. Seoul: The Center for Christian Culture.
  • Un, J. K. (1979 a). Why? - On the purpose of Christian education. Seoul: Shin Mang Ae Press.
  • Un, J. K. (1979 b). The witness of the word (Vols. 1-3). Seoul: Sung Kwang Moon Wha Sa.
  • Un, J. K. (1976). Theology of education. Seoul: The Korean Christian Literature Society.
  • Un, J. K. (1975). A comprehensive report of a study of an experimental church education. Seoul: The Christian Education Institute of the Methodist Theological College and Seminary.
  • Un, J. K. (1972). A comprehensive report of a study on the education of Methodist affiliated junior and senior high school. Seoul: The Committee on the Research of Educational Organization of the Korean Methodist Church.

Chapters in Books (in English)

  • Un, J. K. (1991 a). When Korea abolished guaranteed appointments. In Donald E. Messer (Ed.), Send me (pp. 39-46). Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Chapters in Books (in Korean)

  • Un, J. K. (1997 a). Theology of campus mission. In K. J. Lee (Ed.), Christian university and campus mission (pp. 72-85). Seoul: Chun Mang Sa.
  • Un, J. K. (1996 a). Educational ministries in a new era. In The United Graduate School of Theology of Yonsei University (Ed.), The minister of the 21st century: The lecture series of the summer theological seminary for ministers (pp. 163-170). Seoul: Yonsei University Press.
  • Un, J. K. (1992). Campus mission. In K. J. Lee (Ed.), Contemporary theology of mission: Korean reflections (pp. 498-519). Seoul: Chun Mang Sa.
  • Un, J. K. (1990 a). A theological reflection on the 3rd church. In B. B. Park (Ed.), Christianity and Korean culture (pp. 88-109). Seoul: Sinangkwa Jisung Sa.
  • Un, J. K. (1988 b). The church. In The Korean Methodist church (Ed.), The Kingdom of God, the church, minjoong (pp. 25-58). Seoul: The Board of Communication and Publication of the Korean Methodist Church.
  • Un, J. K. (1986 b). The task of the Korean Methodist church in the second century of Christian mission. In The board of missions of the Korean Methodist church (Ed.), A report of the council of the mission policy (pp. 71-85). Seoul: The Board of Communication and Publication of the Korean Methodist Church.
  • Un, J. K. (1985 a). A theology of laity. In The association of elders of the Korean Methodist church (Ed.), Lectures on theology of laity (pp. 111-164). Seoul: The Board of Communication and Publication of the Korean Methodist Church.
  • Un, J. K. (1985 b). A study of ministry model. In The alumni association of the Methodist Theological Seminary (Ed.), A study of ministry models for the Korean Methodist church (pp. 55-77). Seoul: The Board of Communication and Publication of the Korean Methodist Church.
  • Un, J. K. (1985 c). Christian education in the modern Korean history: The Korean Methodist church of 1885 ~ 1945. In The institute for Christian culture of Korea (Ed.), The Korean church and theological tasks (pp. 180-199). Seoul: Soongsil University Press.
  • Un, J. K. (1984 c). A theological foundation of Christian education. In I. T. Oh (Ed.), Christian education (pp. 25-51). Seoul: The Korean Christian Education Association.
  • Un, J. K. (1984 d). One hundred years of the Korean Methodist church: An ecclesiological review. In The committee on the centennial commemoration (Ed.), The Korean Methodist church in the world (pp. 19-31). Seoul: The Board of Communication and Publication of the Korean Methodist Church.
  • Un, J. K. (1982 c). A Study on the problems of religious education of Christian schools from the perspective of the separation of the church and the state: Cases in the United States. In A collection of essays to celebrate to celebrate the 60th birthday of Dr. Lee Chong Sung (pp. 439-459). Seoul: The Presbyterian College and Theological Seminary.
  • Un, J. K. (1982 d). Religious education of Christian schools in Korea: Focusing on the separation of the church and the state. In A collection of essays to celebrate Dr. Moon Sanghee and Yoo Dongsik (pp. 267-286). Seoul: Yonsei University Press.
  • Un, J. K. (1978 a). The Korean church and mission. In The center for nationwide mission education of the Methodist Theological Seminary (Ed.), Establishing mission theology (pp. 46-59). Seoul: Methodist Theological Seminary.
  • Un, J. K. (1971 a). A prolegomena of the philosophy of education: Focusing on ideas of Otto Bollnow and Robert Ulich. In A collection of essays to celebrate the 60th birthday of Dr. Chungam Hong Hyun Seol (pp. 289-303). Seoul: Methodist Theological Seminary.
  • Un, J. K. (1970 a). An understanding of the ecclesiology of Karl Barth. In the Korean Barth Society (Ed.), A study of Karl Barth's theology (pp. 121-144). Seoul: The Christian Literature Society of Korea.

Articles (in English)

  • Un, J. K. (1997 b). After church growth in Korea: Search for an alternative ecclesial model. International Journal of Practical Theology, 1, 161-172.
  • Un, J. K. (1996 b). Doing theology in the context of Korea. Pastoraltheologische Information, 16, 245-252.
  • Un, J. K. (1993 a). Building solidarity: A theological interpretation of Christian social ministry: With reference to life line ministry. Hyundaewa Sinhack, The Contemporary World and Theology, 17, 271-286.

Articles (in Korean)

  • Un, J. K. (2001 a). Theological education for the new era. Kyoyuk Mokhoi, Educational Ministry, Spring, 28-34.
  • Un, J. K. (2001 b). The church can survive only when the laity is recognized as the people of God. Kyoyuk Mokhoi, Educational Ministry, Fall, 159-165.
  • Un, J. K. (1999 b). Ecclesiology for educational ministry. Kyoyuk Mokhoi, Educational Ministry, Fall, 37-41.
  • Un, J. K. (1998 b). The shift of theological paradigm for the recovery of ministry. Kyohoewa and Mokyang, The Church and Pastoral Ministry, 10 ,14-18.
  • Un, J. K. (1997 c). The historically transformational paradigm of the Korean church: After church growth. Hyundaewa Sinhack, The Contemporary World and Theology, 22, 189-213.
  • Un, J. K. (1996 c). The modernization of Korea and the role of Christian school: The reason for the existence of Christian schools and their role. Kidokkyo Sasang, Christian Thought, 447, 10-20.
  • Un, J. K. (1996 d). Laity as ministry partners. Wolgan Mokhoi, Monthly Ministry, 225 (January), 36-41.
  • Un, J. K. (1995 a). The future direction of Christian university. Linton Academy Journal, December, 17-25.
  • Un, J. K. (1995 b). Rediscovery and recovery of Methodism. Kidokkyo Segae, The Christian World, January, 8-10.
  • Un, J. K. (1994 a). Theological education in a global age. Kidokkyo Sasang, Christian Thought, 423, 31-45.
  • Un, J. K. (1994 b). The strength and weakness of the Korean church. Wolgan Mokhoi, Monthly Ministry, 221(January), 89-99.
  • Un, J. K. (1993 b). What will the church teach in new contexts. Kidokkyo Sasang, Christian Thought, 419, 10-17.
  • Un, J. K. (1993 c). A review of the standing of Christian education of the Korean church. Kidokkyo Kyoyuk, Christian Education, January, 32-37.
  • Un, J. K. (1991 b). A research on theological methodology for the study of ecclesiology: Exploring Communitas. Sinhack Nondan, Theology Forum, 19, 131-153.
  • Un, J. K. (1991 c). A suggestion for the development of Methodist leadership. Kidokkyo Segae, The Christian World, April, 10-11.
  • Un, J. K. (1990 b). The relevance of the Korean Methodist church as a 60 years old independent church. Kidokkyo Segae, The Christian World, June, 8-9.
  • Un, J. K. (1989 a). The Korean Methodist church as the 3rd church. Sinhack Nondan, Theology Forum, 18, 269-290.
  • Un, J. K. (1989 b). For the family in crisis. Christian Journal, June, 14-16.
  • Un, J. K. (1988 c). It should be 'Sunday Church School'. Kyosaeui Bot, The Companion of Teachers, May, 37-42.
  • Un, J. K. (1988 d). These things should be changed in church education. Light and Salt, February, 38-39.
  • Un, J. K. (1988 e). The educational legacy and the future of the Methodist church. Kidokkyo Segae, The Christian World, February, 14-16.
  • Un, J. K. (1988 f). Thoughts of Horace Bushnell. Sinangkwa Kyoyuk, Faith and Education, January, 53-58.
  • Un, J. K. (1987 a). A study on the relationship of theological education and contexts of ministry. Sinhack Nondan, Theology Forum, 17, 233-259.
  • Un, J. K. (1987 b). Plans of ministry and a new ministry model. Sinangkwa Kyoyuk, Faith and Education, December, 6-13.
  • Un, J. K. (1987 c). The contemporary church and educational mission. Sinangkwa Kyoyuk, Faith and Education, September, 6-11.
  • Un, J. K. (1987 d). The meaning and direction of campus ministry. Sinangkwa Kyoyuk, Faith and Education, February, 11-21.
  • Un, J. K. (1986 c). The world Methodist church and the Korean Methodist church: Their common destiny and future. Kidokkyo Segae, The Christian World, December, 12-14.
  • Un, J. K. (1986 d). Ministry and education. Kidokkyo Segae, The Christian World, September, 8-9.
  • Un, J. K. (1985 d). The identity crisis of Christian university and the future: An approach of theology of education. Hyundaewa sinhack, The Contemporary World and Theology, 10, 149-171.
  • Un, J. K. (1985 e). Christian education of the second century of Christian mission. Kidokkyo Segae, The Christian World, September, 6-7.
  • Un, J. K. (1985 f). The educational Task of the Korean Church for the second century of Christian mission: A longing for the Renaissance of the Sunday Church School. Kidokkyo Sasang, Christian Thought, 325 (July), 13-22.
  • Un, J. K. (1985 g). The educational task of the Korean church for the second century of the mission. Kidokkyo Sasang, Christian Thought, 323 (July), 13-22.
  • Un, J. K. (1985 h, May 19). Christian education of the adolescence. Kyohoe Yonhap Shinbo, Christian News, p. 3.
  • Un, J. K. (1984 e). A study of the Sunday church school education. Yonsei Kyoyuk Kwahack, Yonsei Educational Science, 31, 37-70.
  • Un, J. K. (1984 f). Let us recover the context of education. Wolgan Mokhoi, Monthly Ministry, 100 (December), 74-79.
  • Un, J. K. (1984 g). Theology of laity and education: From a perspective of education - mission theology. Kidokkyo Kyoyuk, Christian Education, October, 43-47 & 119.
  • Un, J. K. (1984 h). The educational Task of the Korean Church for the 2nd century of Christian Mission. Kamlikyo Kyoyuk, The Methodist Education, September, 5-7.
  • Un, J. K. (1984 i). Religious education in university education. Daehack Kyoyuk, University Education, July, 63-68.
  • Un, J. K. (1984 j). The meaning of Christian existence in a post-Christian era. Kidok Sileopin, The Korean CBMC, January, 6-8.
  • Un, J. K. (1984 k, April)). New person, new world, new YMCA. Korea YMCA Newsletter.
  • Un, J. K. (1983). An appeal for the reformation of the education of the Korean Methodist Church: On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the education week. Kyohoewa Kyoyuk, The Church and Education, September, 7-10.
  • Un, J. K. (1982 e) . The church school teacher, the holy name. Kyohoewa Kyoyuk, The Church and Education, September, 5-7.
  • Un, J. K. (1982 f). A reflection on religious education of Christian schools. Hyundaejongkyo, Contemporary Religion, August, 86-94.
  • Un, J. K. (1982 g). The direction of Korean Christian education: Its purpose. Saegajeong, New Family, March, 45-49.
  • Un, J. K. (1982 h). Searching for the place where Christian education is happening: An introduction to contexts of Christian education. Kidokkyo Kyoyuk, Christian Education, February, 10-14.
  • Un, J. K. (1981). Where the church education stands now. Kyohoewa Kyoyuk, The Church and Education, August, 8-9.
  • Un, J. K. (1980 a). Where should Christian education go from here? Sinangsegae, Faith World, 146 (November), 93-95.
  • Un, J. K. (1980 b). On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Sunday school movement. Sinangsegae, Faith World, 137 (February), 14-15.
  • Un, J. K. (1978 b, March). A campaign to protect the young. Korea YMCA Newsletter.
  • Un, J. K. (1977 a). The task of education for the transformation of local churches. Dae Hwa, Dialogue, September, 233-236.
  • Un, J. K. (1977 b). Toward morality of education. Kidokkyo Sasang, Christian Thought, 225 (March), 67-74.
  • Un, J. K. (1977 c, April). Educational mission of the church and its problems. Kyohoe Yonhap Shinbo, Christian News.
  • Un, J. K. (1974). Approaches of Christian education: A reflection around major ideological trends of the world. Kidokkyo Kyoyuk, Christian Education, January, 6-11.
  • Un, J. K. (1973 a). Two media for the evangelism of the Gospel: Witness and education. Christian Life, November, 32-33.
  • Un, J. K. (1973 b). Christian education as human education. Sae Sangmyung, New Life, July, 32-36.
  • Un, J. K. (1973 c). Theology of education. Communication, July, 63-76.
  • Un, J. K. (1973 d). Resurrection and 4•19: An analogia from a confession of a Christian. Kidokkyo Sasang, Christian Thought, 179 (April), 76-83.
  • Un, J. K. (1973 e). Christian education curriculum: For teachers. Kidokkyo Kyoyuk, Christian Education, March, 4-8.
  • Un, J. K. (1972 b). A reflection on the nature and form of worship. Kidokkyo Sasang, Christian Thought, 170 (July), 46-53.
  • Un, J. K. (1972 c). Trends of contemporary Christian education research. Christian Life, May, 32-33.
  • Un, J. K. (1972 d). An invitation to a new life: An exploration of the purpose of Christian education. Kidokkyo Kyoyuk, Christian Education, February, 6-11.
  • Un, J. K. (1972 e). Let us preach reconciliation. Kidokkyo Sasang, Christian Thought, 165 (February), 46-53.
  • Un, J. K. (1971 b). What does salvation mean in the contemporary world?: From the perspective of political theology. Communication, October, 10-12.
  • Un, J. K. (1971 c). The future of the family from the perspective of education. Kajok Kyewhoik, Family Planning, Summer, 74-80.
  • Un, J. K. (1971 d). Christian education and educational administration for the future. Kyohoewa Kyoyuk, The Church and Education, July, 5-6 & 25.
  • Un, J. K. (1971 e). The problem of students in higher education. Yonsei Sangdam Yongu, Yonsei Counseling Research, September, 58-73.
  • Un, J. K. (1971 f). A mission theology for the military. Kidokkyo Segae, The Christian World, 1971, 28-37.
  • Un, J. K. (1971 g, July 4). Mission and education. Weekly Religion.
  • Un, J. K. (1970 b). The mission for the 1970s. Ohneulei Sunkyo, Contemporary Mission, 4 (June), 7-10.
  • Un, J. K. (1970 c). The nation and Christian education. Kidokkyo Segae, The Christian World, May, 4 & 15.
  • Un, J. K. (1969 a). Christian education and theology: Their relationships. Saegajeong, New Family, December, 19-23.
  • Un, J. K. (1969 b). Christian education for the transformation of human beings. Kidokkyo Segae, The Christian World, October, 4.
  • Un, J. K. (1969 c). Christian responsibilities for higher education. Kidokkyo Sasang, Christian Thought, 129 (February), 56-66.
  • Un, J. K. (1969 d). Common people and the academic elite. Ewha, June, 137-141.
  • Un, J. K. (1969 e). The educational task of the church. Kidokkyo Kyoyuk, Christian Education, January, 28-32.
  • Un, J. K. (1968 a). Theology and education. Kyohoe wa Kyoyuk, The Church and Education, December, 6-7.
  • Un, J. K. (1968 b). The future of the Korean church. Kidokkyo Segae, The Christian World, 511 (November), 4-5.

Articles about Un Joon Kwan

  • Nam, J. Y. (2003, February 4). Faith! There should be a constant self reflection. A dialogue with Un Joon Kwan. Christian Times, p. 4.
  • Lim, Y. T. (1992). Understanding theology of education of Un Joon Kwan. Sinhack Nondan, Theology Forum, 26, 143-189.
  • Christian Journal (1989). A passionate theologian of education, Un Joon Kwan. Christian Journal, September, 54-56.
  • Choi, K. W. (1988). Let us be honest before God: An interview with Un Joon Kwan. Wolgan Mokhoi, Monthly Ministry, 142 (December), 144-157.

Curriculum and Study Guides

  • Un, J. K. (2003). Total Bible curriculum: A perspective from the salvation history. Seoul: Total Bible Curriculum Institute.
  • Un, J. K. (1994 c). Total Bible curriculum for children. Seoul: The Association of Korean Educational Ministries.
  • Un, J. K. (1990 c). Total Bible curriculum. Seoul: The Association of Korean Educational Ministries.
  • Un, J. K. (1988 g). Foundational education: Sunday church school teacher training curriculum. Seoul: The Christian Literature Society of Korea.

Book Reviews by Joon Kwan Un

  • Un, J. K. (1980 c). [Review of book The Gift of Power]. Sae Kyoyuk, New Education, November, 84-85.
  • Un, J. K. (1972 f). [Review of book Christian education in mission (transl. Woongseop Chung)]. Kidokkyo Sasang, The Christian Thoughts, 177 (December), 124-126.

Reviews of Joon Kwan Un's Books

  • Kim, Y. J. (1998). Theological ecclesiology. Wolgan Mokhoi, Monthly Ministry, 250 (February).
  • Hahn, M. R. (1988). Contexts of education and theology of context. [Review of the book Context of Christian education]. Kidokkyo Sasang, The Christian Thoughts, 351, 131-134.

Excerpts from Publications

Un, J. K. (1976). Theology of education. Seoul: The Korean Christian Literature Society.

What is theology of education? What are its role as a discipline, scope and limits? Jerome Bruner, in his book The Process of Education, emphasizes that there are two fundamental elements in education: structure of the discipline and learning process. In Christian education the structure is crystallized in the word "gospel." The structure of Christian education is the witness of God's relationship with humanity, which is also the core of the sovereignty of God, revelation, the world and life, sin and forgiveness, humanity and the church, and scripture. We call interpretations of this structure theology. Therefore, Christian education starts from theology. However, it is not the completion of Christian education. Christian education should include the process that the gospel is experienced, interpreted, and realized in the relationship between human beings and between human beings and the world. Here the task of Christian education is scientifically to analyze the process. That is, to be a unique educational activity, Christian education should be concerned with both the structure (dialogue with theology) and the process (dialogues with educational theories). Moreover, there is another task for Christian education. It is to name and to be involved in the context where structure and process meet. Theology of education is an academic discipline that tries to interpret the relationship between the structure, the process, and the context. (pp. 12-13)

Un, J. K. (1982 a). The church - mission - education. Seoul: Chun Mang Sa.

The teacher is neither the deliverer of content nor an enabler; rather a teacher is a little creator who is making a new history along with students, or a little creator in the process. In other words, a real teacher does not put her/his faith in a technological kingdom but in the reign of God, enduring suffering to create a new history. This means that the success of Korean Christian education depends on the success of recruitment and training of good teachers. Christian education is an encounter with history, and students are not just passive recipients of education. Instead they are little creators who are in training to make a new history. Curriculum means stimulation, foundation, information and encounter for the co-creation of history through crystallizing the life of Christ in the life contexts of the teacher and students. (p. 161)

Un, J. K. (1992, March 31). Christian Education as Historical Transformation. 1992 Paul B. Irwin Lecture. Claremont School of Theology.

"Basileia Tou Theou (the Kingdom or Reign of God) - History-Laos Tou Theou (the People of God)" scheme in opposition to "Baseleia-Church-World" and "Basileia-World-Minjung" is a theological theme that I propose for our theological and educational discussions in order to find clues to the solution of the problems, contextual and theological crisis, that we face." --- "What is implied in terms of theological significance for Christian Education is that it is not the church (theological right nor the minjung (theological left), but God's reign in history, judging and redeeming the world, which has to be taken as a new theological nexus for the church's existence and its educational and missionary acts. It is God in history that constitutes the praxis, the arena for the church and Christian Education in the world. Therefore, I would like to make the point that the third theological scheme "Basileia Tou Theou-History-the Church" is not only biblically-theologically relevant but also ethnically-educationally relevant if the scheme is interpreted in eschatological relations. Christian Education as historical transformation means neither the church transforming the world nor education itself transforming people, but participation in God who is in Christ transforming all history."

Un, J. K. (1998). Theological ecclesiology. Seoul: The Christian Literature Society of Korea.

Today's Korean church! It is true that the Korean church is experiencing the golden era in terms of numbers, money, and buildings and facility. Despite that, why are there more and more critiques of the Korean church? What's the hidden story behind the church growth? How could we explain personal salvation that results in indifference of social salvation (Professor Min Kyungbae's interpretation) and the lack of historicity of both liberalism and conservatism that produces absurd financial structure and a lack of responsibility for mission (Professor Kim Youngjae's analysis)?

I summarize these phenomena as disconnection between 'faith in Christ' (Christo) and 'historicity' (praxis). If the faith in Christ is the ultimate concern and is at center of the Korean church, offering, membership and facility of the Korean church should be reinvested to mission, witness and education that bring forth a new history through reconciliation and love, in the name of Christ and for the glory of God. Before the birth of the church, first there was the Jesus Christ event which was the incarnation of the 'word' becoming 'flesh.' The churches should be the community of witness for that incarnation. Behind the statistics of the Korean church (that its total spending on mission, education and social services is no more than 15%), there is poisonous authoritarianism and clericlerism, the idea that only the church can speak about faith. The fundamental problem of the Korean church is not numbers, systems, doctrines and denominations, but the lack of theological consciousness as a community of witness for Jesus Christ. Every faith community with different theological positions should have an eschatological faith that confesses Jesus Christ as the lord of humanity in one baptism and one Christ. And this faith should be expanded to service and the witness of those being redeemed who are suffering with humanity in history. This is the nature of the church as Christ-Praxis. It is praxis that is completed in Jesus Christ. Therefore, the task of the Korean church is the praxis of its faith beyond the confession of faith in Jesus Christ. (pp. 50-51)

Un, J. K. (1999). Practical ecclesiology. Seoul: The Christian Literature Society of Korea: 389. (Chapter 8. Education as historical remembrance of God's reign and hope.)

Historical-eschatological education is not just programs that churches practice. It is not the education of Sunday school nor laity education and social education. Education means everything we do to help all the people of God, who are participating in the reign of God that already came through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is still coming, so that they can discern and affirm the reign of God and dedicate themselves to it. Sunday church school, Bible study, Laity education, confirmation, and catechesis only exist within the boundary of education that is for the establishment of the eschatological people of God.


Recommended Readings

Un, J. K. (1976). Theology of education. . Seoul: The Korean Christian Literature Society.

This book is Un's most representative work. Through an extensive analysis of history and theological foundations of Christian education, Un argues that Christian education is a discipline that, by necessity, is in dialogue with both theology and educational theories. He gives special attention to contexts or settings. To this end, Un reviews different theological trends in modern Christianity, from Horace Bushnell to liberal theology to Neo-orthodox theology to Imago Dei theology. He also analyzes the impact these theological traditions have had on education by looking at their purpose, content, contexts, anthropology, etc. This book is a good theological introduction to Christian education, and provides an excellent summary of the history of Christian theology.

Un, J. K. (1997). After church growth in Korea: Search for an alternative ecclesial model. . International Journal of Practical Theology. 1: 161-172.

This article is an excellent summary of Un's ecclesiology and analysis of the Korean church. It is written in English. Through historical and theological analyses of the models of the church, which he calls the 1st and the 2nd church, Un suggests the 3rd church as a model for the future church. The 3rd church is a church that focuses on the Reign of God as a motif, and thereby creates an eschatological-historical community. Through this article, readers will gain a better understanding of the foundation of Un's ecclesiology, which he further develops in two volumes, Theological Ecclesiology and Practical Ecclesiology, both published in Korean.

Un, J. K. (1986). A Methodist theology of education: The nature and practice of Christian education. . Seoul: The Board of Education of the Korean Methodist Church.

This book was written at the request of the Commission on Education of the Korean Methodist Church. The Commission wanted a foundational pedagogy on which its future educational policies and programs could be developed. Although Theology of education was written with teachers in mind, it has sound theological underpinnings. Un lays out his vision for Korean Methodist education's nature, purpose, content, methods, and contexts.

Un, J. K. (1988). Foundational education: Sunday church school teacher training curriculum I. .Seoul: The Christian Literature Society of Korea.

An excellent curriculum for Sunday church school teacher training. In lay people's language, Un presents laity with fundamentals of Christian education, covering everything from the history of the Sunday church school to the nature and scope of Christian education. He helps Sunday church teachers grasp the broad scope and importance of their ministry and its integral role in Christian education.


Author Information

Boyung Lee

Boyung Lee (Ph.D., Boston College) serves as Assistant Professor of Educational Ministries at Pacific School of Religion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, whence Joon Kwan Un received his doctoral degree. Lee was a student of Un at Yonsei University.

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