Thirty years ago, John Hyung Nam Chung was in a meeting with another pastor at an Arab church in Bahrain. When both were asked whether they believed theologically if the founding of Israel in 1948 and the recapture of Jerusalem in 1967 were fulfillments of biblical prophecy that some say teaches the end of world won’t come until the Holy Land is united, the other pastor responded with a resounding “yes.” Troubled by that belief, Hyung hesitated to answer.
“Many church members, both Palestinians and their Arab friends, were offended by the other pastor. The meeting ended coldly,” Hyung writes in the introduction to a book he is writing during his time as part of the Visiting Scholars Program at Calvin Seminary.
Speaking in a phone interview from his research office in the Hekman Library, Hyung said he is grateful to the seminary for giving him the space and time to research and write a book about an issue that has been on his mind for many years. “I am writing a biblical response to this kind of (end times) prophecy,” Hyung said. “It is a very dangerous kind of theology.”
He hopes to title the book A Comparative Study Between the Bible and the Quran on Death and Resurrection.
Hyung, who does ministry work in the Middle East, is one of a handful of scholars from around the world who are part of the Visiting Scholars Program this academic year.
This year’s other scholars are Rubens Muzio from Brazil, Sunghak Joo from South Korea, Freddy Lay from Indonesia, and B. Hoon Woo from South Korea.
Rubens Muzio, a missionary from Brazil, is working on his Ph.D. dissertation, titled A Study on the Theology of Sanctification and the Semantics of Godliness in Early Modern Protestant Spirituality.
He’s visiting from the South American Theological Seminary, a missional institute “focusing on revitalization and sustainable development” and “addressing the need in theological formation, aging church, and superficial spirituality,” Muzio says.
Sunghak Joo has been senior pastor for 16 years in India at Chennai Korean Presbyterian Church. “As a scholar, I have been exploring Indian religions, especially Hinduism and Jainism,” he says. “I am taking a sabbatical year in CTS to deepen my understanding of Asian studies and missionary perspective to further extend my ministry.”
During his time at the seminary, Joo says, he “wants to write a book on Indian religions and culture to enhance Koreans’ understanding of the Indian culture (and) religions.”
Freddy Lay, a missionary from Jakarta, is at Calvin to further his academic interest in the process of mentoring. “Mentoring companionship is a relational-based mentoring in mutual trust, commitment, and humility to mentor each other and to hold each other accountable,” he says.
He is working on a book titled Mentoring Companionship: Together We Find Strength in God.
B. Hoon Woo lists his scholarly interests as Luther's doctrine of vocation, Augustine's political theology, and the relationship between Christianity and science.
“The seminary offers many resources for these topics,” Woo said, “and the Hekman Library is also helping me a lot.”