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Sunday, September 15th, 2013

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Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Chondogyo also known as Cheondoism or Chondoism is the “Religion of the Heavenly Way” which originated as a Korean nationalistic or patriotic movement with religious themes or overtones as combining elements of Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Shamanism and even Catholicism. It initially begun as a reactionary movement against the West as signified under its first name of Donghak/Tonghak or “Eastern Learning”. Its success was set in motion by its founder Choe Jeu who used the vehicle of religion along with a message of social reform to drive this philosophical system. This movement basically emphasized a better life as bringing in a humanitarian age filled with the prosperity of righteousness and peace as a means of motivation to fuel or propel its progression in opposition to a corrupt government as well as the foreign invasion of East Asia with Western religion and its imperialistic powers which seemed to indicate to Choe that divine favor had passed into the hands of foreigners. Essentially Choe had a vision to make Korea as strong as the West as he saw it as a threat to Korean identity especially with the defeat of the Chinese in Beijing by the British French forces.

At its inception Choe seemed to be driving aimlessly as having this inspiration but not really know how to practically bring it into fruition. Strikingly his concept about  ’the way of heaven as being in your mind ‘ went from being  just another spiritual movement to leading an armed revolution of peasants.Thus it seems as if this paradise on earth would have to first come through a hellish bloodshed of an apocalyptical era of waging war in ushering in this new age of human rights and social equity but overall it failed  in its military endeavor as both Choe Je-u and Choe Sihyeong were killed driving the movement underground.

This idealism to restore and preserve the culture  of Korea through the  armed conflict of violence seems counterintuitive as destroying some of its own countrymen  as well as its moral or ethical principles as to serve all man as they serve heaven, or treat man as god, behaving towards others with the utmost concern, respect, dignity and equality.

The other aspect of Choe’s message seemed to present a prejudicial concern as only targeting Korean society with its localized geography contrary to the universal and global concern for his fellow humans with his anti-sentiments towards foreigners or outsiders. Thus the Koreans were to be the primary beneficiaries of this Utopian age and yet Korea is just a small part of a much larger landscape which makes me wonder how the Lord of Heaven and Earth could neglect our greater world community over the concern of this one nation as being the privileged society of civilization especially if there are other humans who likewise have this same goal to achieve a moral order. Perhaps he thought that Korea would be a microcosm as a catalyst for worldwide development and yet the very thing he despised as resisting western influence would be no different than him trying to impose his Eastern ways upon Westerners.

In conclusion this movement in some ways had a favorable and positive influence on Korean life as leading it to become more independent in assisting future reformers to bring about some needed political and economic changes but overall it never materialized to the degree which it had proposed through its enlightened leadership. This concept is even further degraded as North Korea has impoverished and exploited its people through the Workers Party of Korea as mistreating and oppressing its nation under the brutality of a dictatorship with its cruel prison or labor camps. Today, Cheondoism does not represent a changing force within North Korean society in bringing forth its salvific benefits and though it is recognized politically as the Chendoist Chongu party it is marginalized as it concedes with the WPK and is not allowed to have any kind of independent religious activity which is why many of their members fled south during the Korean war.  Anyway this illusion of religious freedom and a multi-party democracy is staged as the Chendoist Chongu party leadership is a puppet appointed by the North Korean government.

Which brings me to my next point as supposedly Choe Je-u was commissioned to help save human kind from sickness which never fully transpired and therefore I doubt his spiritual experience as receiving a mystical talisman, Yeongiu or spiritual symbol through a personal visitation from Hanullim, the supreme deity as the Lord of Heaven. Another reason why I remain skeptical about this is because it was not based on an altruistic motive but rather it was established out of resentment and opposition to the success of Christianity rather than divine revelation. Strangely enough he innovatively capitalized on Catholicism by attempting to syncretize and adopt some of its practices and words with its concepts about god, bible and having a  Sunday church service  with  prayer, hymns, scripture reading and a sermon. Thus it seems like a desperate attempt to recover the lost Korean souls by assenting and accommodating the enemy’s way and yet if he really thought that Christianity was a false religion and wanted to purify Korea then why wouldn’t he have distanced himself and  repudiated such practices rather than adopt them as being contrary to Confucianism? In the end this tragically backfired as Choe was executed for what would be refered to as his catholic beliefs regarding the supreme heavenly ruler and the practice of healing. In summary this movement, much like a personality cult, originated with great momentum and some  success but has fizzled out as hardly surviving it charismatic leadership.

Another matter which I find conflicting is that this movement which was founded by Choe Jeu as originally attaining the enlightened principles of Eastern Learning was to become modified in its application in less than 50 years as the third patriarch Son Byeong-hui or Son Byong-Hi began to organize this movement as codifying its teachings. This first began as Son returned to Korea from asylum in Japan as starting Chinbohoe or   Jinbohoe as a progressive society with a whole new look as Donghak members cut their long hair and wore modest clothing as well as participated in non-violent demonstrations. Moreover he eventually modernized the movement even further by taking the new name of Cheondoism as a maneuver to remove its political and military agenda with an emphasis on a religious identity which were moves that were motivated by Son’s survival  and that of the groups to accommodate and pacify the Korean government, as well as the Japanese who would latter occupy Korea. Anyway I find this somewhat unenlightening as this group’s leadership failed to maintain the momentum of its founder’s principle. Lastly this movement would undergo yet another revision as being under the influence of King Gojong who added Buddhist rituals and codices and so like a chameleon the movement once again has changed its colors to adapt to its cultural surrounding as adulterating the original enlightenment of Choe’s message especially as Choe never adopted or accepted Buddhist practices himself.

In regards to its belief system they practice a 21 syllable incantation, much like the Hare Krishna, as harmonizing their mind with god believing that through the superficiality of chanting or reciting a formulaic mantra prayer that it can somehow mysteriously transform a person so as to achieve enlightenment through the mystical saying of the chumun as stating “May the creative power of the universe be within me in abundance. May heaven be with me and every creation will be done. Never forgetting this truth, everything will be known.”

This utterance contains the basic principle that man and god are one and this can be realized by individuals through sincere belief in the unity of their body and spirit and through faith in the universality of god. Yet murmuring words as an incantation does not guarantee anything as Hitler believed that if you said something loud enough and long enough that people will believe you and though his message was inspiring to some it was deadly dangerous and wrong. I am not correlating Nazi Germany to this Korean ideology except that what we say and believe is not necessarily true no matter how honorable it may seem or appear.  Truth reigns independently of mankind’s words, values and initiation and though elements of truth may be contained within a belief system it does not mean it is an essential or ultimately true in every respect. Moreover you can be sincere in your faith and still be sincerely wrong.

Another controversy with this movement is its denial of the afterlife with any sort of heaven and hell which stands against reason if there is a sovereign God who is perfectly good how could people avert or escape the consequences of this life and therefore the character of God demands that justice prevails beyond the boundaries of the gravesite as either sufficiently rewarding or condemning individuals. Anyway I have previously written about near death experiences and even have testimony from a former atheistic doctor who witnessed some of these death-bed experiences or conversions and I am including a video link that contains some of these testimonies.

Lastly this whole ideal or concept of heaven on earth is something that most all of creation longs for and will one day come to pass but not through the agency of mankind in striving to find their so-called god potential or even as bearing his image in a limited capacity. Whether it is through the human motivation of a secular or religious path, mankind is unable to accomplish this grandiose task as the nature of mankind can never evolve to this kind of magnitude as evidenced by the 20th century which has been filled with more bloodshed than any other time in human history. Our capabilities continue to grow through the development and sophistication of modern technology in gaining certain potentially but have failed to advance morally. Which causes me to seriously doubt mankind’s aptitude to achieve the level of moral perfection as free will creatures and no matter how great the cause they will always fall short as being subdued consensually on every issue no matter how idealistically it is presented and so to think that if you could somehow get everybody to follow the way of heaven is really an overestimation of humanities capabilities with a pseudo belief that mankind is divine in essence and potentiality.

Thou Choe essentially opposed Christianity as a Western religion, even though it really originated in the East, it contains the very essence of what he was striving for concerning its virtue and morality not just from a spiritual aspect but as it has led the world in the proliferation of practical humanitarian works of global proportions as it has developed such institutions as hospitals and orphanages. In actuality it seems that he was more interested in protecting his own Korean idealism as to either make a god after his own image or a modern Tower of Babel to achieve a fortress through human effort as joining heaven to earth in displaying the glory of man. Anyway the biblical depiction of this matter is manifested in the person and work of Jesus the Christ who universally establishes everlasting peace as initiated by the providence of God not through the will of a man or nation. Furthermore Jesus has proven to subdue the shortcoming of men’s frivolous goals as removing the barriers as building a bridge between the East and West in uniting the world in harmony under His rule and reign as joining many hearts and lives to a restored order of righteousness on earth.

In closing Choe’s birth name refereed to him as being one that would “save and proclaim” which he later revised to “savior of the ignorant” but in reality he did not accomplish his mission of which he and his organization, as mere mortal men, are in need of a Savior themselves and you might also find this need too as you struggle to improve your life through the personal cultivation of upholding moral virtues or disciplines in keeping a steadfast mind in avoiding the materialistic desires of greed and lust. Jesus mission was to set the captives free from the bondage of sin in all its consequences and He is the true heavenly Lord who as the great Teacher is the source of living water who can purify your spirit and soul. Jesus has brought a revolution which resulted in a transformation of global humanity as changing the hearts and lives not by the sword but through the human implement of suffering, namely the cross, to reconcile and redeem mankind unto Himself in making us one with God. This results  as Christ regenerates others as giving them a new innate nature or quality of holiness and righteousness not accomplished through the rigors of spiritual discipline but as a gift of His salvation which is changing millions of lives as well as my own and I am including a link of our testimonies. All I ask of you my friend is that you would be open during your time of prayer and meditation to just ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you in a knowable way so as to believe upon him as Lord and Savior. After all what do you have to lose in comparison to what you may gain? God bless!

My testimony with Jesus


Jesus said


28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”



How to know God

Cheondoism Resources



Encyclopedia of Religion Second Edition, copyright 2005 Thomson Gale a part of The Thomson Corporation, Lindsay Jones Editor in Chief, Vol.3, pgs. 1647-1648, Yong-Choon Kim

Encyclopedia of Religion Second Edition, copyright 2005 Thomson Gale a part of The Thomson Corporation, Lindsay Jones Editor in Chief, Vol.8, pg. 5234, Francisca Cho

Encyclopaedia Britannica,Inc., copyright 1993, Vol.3, pg.256, Choe Sihyong

Encyclopaedia Britannica,Inc., copyright 1993, Vol.3, pgs.260-261, Chondogyo

Encyclopaedia Britannica,Inc., copyright 1993, Vol.11, pg.9, Son Pyonghi

Religions of the world: a comprehensive encyclopedia of beliefs and practices/ J. Gordon Melton, Martin Baumann, editors; Todd M. Johnson, World Religious Statistics; Donald Wiebe, Introduction-2nd ed., Copyright 2010 by ABC-CLIO, LLC. Reproduced with permission of ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, CA.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2007