Preaching to Korean Immigrants: A Psalmic-Theological Homiletic

Preaching to Korean Immigrants by Rebecca Seungyoun Jeong is a valuable gem as a resource. The book deals with the theology and preaching that is common within Korean immigrant churches in the United States. Both subjects address the sensitive spiritual needs that stem from the suffering endured by the first generation of Korean immigrants who live on the cultural and linguistic margins of their society. This book suggests a psalmic-theological homiletic as an alternative sermon form to overcome the various limitations of preaching to Korean immigrants. This book can contribute to correcting the distortion and limited understanding of God’s image that is frequently created by trends such as capitalism, consumerism, materialism, and individualism related to the preaching of prosperity-oriented blessings, and it will contribute to restoring believers’ damaged faith. Also, Preaching to Korean Immigrants offers prophetic inspiration for marginalized and helpless people in society and it urges appropriate action.

A brief overview of this book is offered in the first chapter. The second chapter explores the history of Korean immigration in the United States and the causes of collective suffering. Jeong also points out the distinctive functions of Korean immigrant churches which have been to serve as a place for preserving native culture, a place for fellowship and security, and a place for religious/spiritual functions that respond to the complex and specific needs arising from the marginalized status of its members. Jeong points out that the Korean immigrant pulpit presents a prosperity theology that spiritual salvation is inseparable from physical health and material success, while it also suggests a deep correlation with the ideology of the American dream. (62) In this sense, the third chapter suggests a more appropriate theological understanding of Korean immigrant preaching. The author deconstructs this prosperity gospel and urges us, who live on the margins to prudently embrace the faith of the crucified and encourages the practices of self-emptying, of reading of the Bible for relative deprivation, liberation, and the eschatological vision. (76). Also, God, who appears as a co-sufferer, emphasizes the practice of embracing the suffering of others. (107) Through the psalmic-rhetoric of “lament, retelling a story, confessional doxology, and obedient vow,” the fourth chapter promotes the church’s joint participation in the vision of God’s eschatological kin-dom from the periphery. (5) Lament makes a place to speak about the FGKI’s shared suffering narrative, including language barriers, failures in material success, struggles with precarious visa status, and experiences of racism. (137) Retelling a story of God’s previous deeds restores a sense of God’s presence, creates a future that inspires hope, and encourages theocentric thinking. (152) The story of these faithful memories did not end with salvation, but provoked Israel’s spontaneous response of joy. (163) Thus, the third form of rhetorical preaching as confessional doxology does not diminish the reality of those who are alienated, but encourages praise as a mode of expressing people’s ongoing troubles once they put their trust in God. (169) The fourth form of rhetorical preaching seeks to move from a self-centered way of life to a God-centered way of life and uncompromising obedience to God’s promises. (176) The fifth chapter analyzes pastor Choi’s sermons (“The Pain and Sorrow of Immigrants”) and pastor Kim’s sermons (“The Suffering of Immigrant Families”) and examines the practices of preaching for local FGKIs related to psalmic-theological preaching that Jeong offers.

The purpose of Korean immigrant preaching is to reconstruct an alternate reality, to reimagine a vision of an alternate world in the midst of an ongoing existential struggle and belief in God’s rule. (177) As Jeong argues, it is the mission of the church to pay attention to social and public suffering and injustice and to seek salvation for all, not just for themselves. (146) The constructive, imaginative language of sermons centered on a subversive alternate world evokes a future commitment to hope and to the vision of a world of possibilities full of grace. (217) Thus, this book is a warm embrace of an alternative vision for wandering people who are looking for home amid suffering, with wider applicability for communities hurt and suffering from the reality of immigration.


Eliana Ah-Rum Ku

Categories: (M) Book Review


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