Abstract

Abstract:

This article is a comparative study of the Sŏn 禪 doctrine of liberation from the cycle of rebirths, through the achievement of buddhahood, and New Testament soteriology, i.e. the doctrine of salvation from one’s mortal condition through christification and divinization. It is inspired by the ongoing Korean sudden/gradual debate sparked by Sŏn Master T’oeong Sŏngch’ŏl 退翁性徹禪師 (1912–1993) in the 1960s, and which has contributed considerably to the shaping of Chogyejong’s 曹溪宗 contemporary doctrine of practice and awakening (sujŭng non 修證論). But rather than being chiefly focused on that debate—about which I have written abundantly elsewhere—this essay looks for its key elements in the New Testament: suddenness, gradualness, practice, and awakening. Unsurprisingly, these concepts, chiefly philosophical in nature, are almost never named as such in the Gospel, not even from a Christian theological perspective. However, one may look for the ideas underlying them, and discover, not only that their meaning is at work in the New Testament, but also that it is part and parcel of its soteriology. In other words, these concepts may provide access to the overall meaning of Christian scriptures’ core and thus allow us to decode it, if not more profoundly, at least from a new perspective. Once one discovers how they interact within the New Testament, especially in the synoptic Gospels, it becomes possible to acquire fresh insights into the way the Evangelists conceived and described a theology of spiritual experience leading to complete salvation. This result may, in return, shed new light on the meaning of Sŏngch’ŏl’s adamant rhetoric of immediacy and experience.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2167-2040
Print ISSN
2093-7288
Pages
pp. 153-181
Launched on MUSE
2019-11-05
Open Access
No
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