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Public Theology and Social Justice

Sebastian Kim presents the 2018 Robert Laidlaw Memorial Lecture on March 7.

At Knox College on Wednesday, March 7, Dr. Sebastian Kim presented as part of the Robert Laidlaw Memorial Lecture series. Sebastian Chang Hwan Kim is Executive Director of the Korean Studies Centre and Professor of Theology and Public Life at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Associate Editor of the International Journal of Public Theology.

Participants gathered in person and online to hear Dr. Kim’s lecture, “Christianity and social justice: the search for the common good from the perspective of public theology,” and to offer questions to Dr. Kim and a panel, which included Knox Professors Charles Fensham and Nam Soon Song. Dr. Kim shared ideas from philosophy and social sciences on what constitutes justice for minorities and poor in society, how public theology applies to minority rights, and an approach to the common good in public theology that intersects both secular and theological concepts of the common good and can be implemented in democratic societies to protect minorities.

“One of the weaknesses of democracy,” he said, “is that when it comes to forming a collective concept of the common good and applying it, the views of the majority are determinative and the views of minorities are ignored or repressed.” He continued, “Freedom, equality, and the rule of law are indeed key aspirations for the modern nation states which enable human society to flourish.” But, he said, “A society must also deal with the problem of minorities, and this is not just a matter of tolerance, compassion, or charity from the majority or from those who have authority, wealth, and power. The system has to provide the least of these.”

Sebastian Kim (centre) with Knox College’s Dong-Ha Kim and Nam Soon Song.

Nam Soon Song, one of the panel members responding to Dr. Kim, said that these themes of social justice and the common good are becoming ever more relevant in our society. She said, “Dr. Kim presented and underscored the interconnectedness of these themes and how they are placed in public theology today, especially the allure for opening up alternatives for discourse and bringing together philosophies from the West and the East.” She thanked Dr. Kim for broadening our perspective.

Did you miss this event? You can still hear Dr. Kim’s lecture at https://youtu.be/MON-JoHq2DU.


Dr. Sebastian Kim also participated in several other events at Knox College on Tuesday, March 6, in advance of the March 7 Robert Laidlaw Memorial Lecture.

Sebastian Kim speaks in Korean to pastors and students at a special event on March 6, 2018.

At Knox College’s community worship on Tuesday afternoon, he said, “We must share ourselves with each other. We need to identify with and understand the pain of others…. We must participate in the ministry of incarnation.” His sermon at community worship was based on Luke 22:54-62. We are “called to be reconcilers,” Kim said, following Jesus’s example of vulnerability, compassion, and sacrifice.

Then at 7pm, pastors and Toronto School of Theology students gathered to hear Dr. Kim speak in Korean on “A History of Korean Christianity: An Integrated Perspective,” based on a book of the same name, which Dr. Kim co-authored with Kirsteen Kim, his spouse. Knox College’s Centre for Asian-Canadian Theology and Ministry hosted the seminar.