What is the main difference between Korean approach to sermons or writing books and American attitude toward this? Do you need just to proof-read or you need to adapt texts for American understanding?
You know in every language there are some things that are very difficult to translate from one language to another. In your language for instance when you say fill up the gas tank, when the gas tank is full, which means you cant fill it because its full. So when we say we are full of the Spirit... now if you are full with the Spirit then how can you be more full with the Spirit if you are full? There have to be adaptations in language. Each language is unique. We have to make sure of what we are trying to say and how to express it.
Sure. I have read a story about one tribe in Africa. When Bible translators were trying to translate the verse: I will make your sins white as snow, they had to think a lot. That tribe had never seen snow, they hadnt even known it exists. So they had this huge debate and decided to translate the verse: I will make your sins as white as a coconut.
Yes, this is funny. Also when our senior pastor Jae Rock Lee receives revelation from God then the revelation coming down and being in Korean and then passed to me to understand, I have to have a very close relationship with the senior pastor and other people who I could speak to and they can explain to me just exactly what this means. And then I can adapt the language to it.
What is the average attitude of American Christians to Korean preachers?
The United States is a country of everyone. Maybe you can even say the United States is Manmin (Manmin means All nations). But we do not have the spirit of Manmin. And I think that to some extent Americans are snobbish about their language. If your English is not very easily understood people have a tendency to turn you off instead of trying to listen harder. So it doesnt make any difference if they are Asian or Russian or German or if they have an accent which is difficult to understand... many people have a tendency to turn you off and not pay attention.
There are also some attitudes like preachers who preach in America should be Americans and the other one is that American preachers have discredited themselves so now we are going to listen to preachers from abroad. So which one is working?
I think its an individual thing. I dont think you can label the United States or the attitude of the United States overall. Its the individual acceptance. Once my mother and father said that we have a whole bunch of churches in the United States why do you have to blow into a church in Korea? Thats my own experience. Then again, my sister and my brother think its amazing, its great. So even in my family its a split attitude.
According to your opinion why there are no preachers from abroad on Central Christian TV channel, like TBN? And pastor Benny, for example... He speaks with accent...
Yes, but his English is perfectly understood. Hes got a very strong accent but if you take a very strong German accent, it is not as easy to listen to that. And also I think its got a lot to do with the context of the message.
In the books, if you have good proof-reading and editing this problem disappears. So language basically plays a very important role in preaching in the United States...
I believe so. Thats why there are so many ethnic churches in the United States. You have Korean churches where you come in and they speak Korean, you go to Russian churches and they speak Russian. Or Spanish or any other language. So these ethnic churches help. If you speak Russian, you go to Russian Orthodox church, if you speak Chinese, you go to Chinese Baptist church.
Is it allowed for foreign preachers to touch politically incorrect subjects that just American preachers are not allowed to speak about otherwise they will get in trouble?
Freedom of speech is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Its alive and well but it may not be real healthy. So there are some things are being spoken from the altar but unfortunately in many situations there is no limit to what can be said. Issues that are in life have got to be addressed through the Word of God. So how can you say: Well, were not gonna talk about infidelity or adultery or foreign retaliations with whatever country it might be. Its part of an overall education and therefore its part of the churchs responsibility. But not to become politically involved and trying to make the minds for the congregation. You teach the Word and how it applies to the Word. And let the members of the congregation make up their own mind according to the word of God. Thats the responsibility of the church.
I recently saw a TV show of Larry King with a pastor of a huge church in the United States. And Larry asked him: Do you believe that the only way to the heaven is Jesus Christ? He answered: Yes, of course. And Larry King instantly asked: So now you are ready to announce that people from other religions are going directly to hell, right? And the preacher just said: Well, each person has his or her own way to God. And only God sees the hearts. So my question is: is it easier for a preacher who lives outside of the United States to deliver more direct messages?
There are some countries you wouldnt dare to speak against the government from the altar. There are some countries where you do not teach anything but the religion recognised by that nation. So we have mosques, we have synagogues, and we have Christian churches, we have Roman Catholic cathedrals. Sometimes all on the same block. So I would say its no more difficult for somebody from outside to preach in the United States than for somebody who is in the United States. Whatever their religion may be. The United States is supposed to be a nation of religious freedom. Whether we agree with their viewpoint or not.
In post-soviet countries people think, that the revival in Korea is partially the consequence of the war, when Americans came and brought Protestantism. That was taught in schools some time ago. Is it true from American point of view?
I think Underwood was credited for the evangelism to Korea. About 150 years ago Protestant bishops came to Korea from England, that also had a good influence. The hardest country in the world to try to evangelise is the United States because we are democratic nation and we have no idea what a king or a kingdom is. The Korean attitude toward Christianity to me, when I first came here and saw them praying in the morning from 4 am to 5.30 am, and then some of the Koreans I work with would go and work after that. They would go to church on Wednesday, on Friday, On Sunday all day. Their faith, their belief and their religion and their strength in prayer is what has made Christianity spread in Korea. It allowed the Holy Spirit to move within Korea because of the spirit of Korean people.
What about Americans? Do they think their country did something to spread Christianity in Korea?
Im not a good American to talk to. Until I was forty years old I only spent eleven years in the United States. I lived all over the world. My father was military and I lived in Europe, Asia. So my understanding is that Americans can really diversify. I cant really speak for most Americans but I think Americans on the whole are very tolerant. I think its a little bit because of ignorance. The American attitude of religion is going to church on Sunday, from ten thirty to eleven thirty. But they are very tolerant religiously. And their idea of tolerance has spread to other nations. If you can destroy freedom of religion you cannot destroy freedom of thought. And China is a great example of that. They thought Christianity didnt exist there. But there are hundreds of thousands of Christians there. Once its there it cant be destroyed.