Sydney Korean Theological College, Sydney College of Divinity

A Frog in Boiling Water: Teaching Theological English in a Korean Context

Rev Dr Charles Bruce Riding is a retired minister of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. He is an alumnus of the University of Queensland, University of South Australia, and Australian College of Theology.

Bruce’s research interests are both Testaments of the Christian Bible. He is a “generalist” rather than a specialist. He is also interested in the interactions between empirical science itself, the history of the sciences, and the philosophy of science, with Christianity. He has presented his PhD thesis “The Day of the LORD: Its Origin, Its Precursors, and Its Development before Amos and Hosea” at various conferences. He recently presented on the relationship between the Sciences and Christianity at the 2021 ANZATS Conference on “Scientific Revolutions, Paradigm Shifts, and Religious Conversions: Thomas Kuhn’s insights on the physical sciences applied to religion and the other humanities”. His most recent article was published this year in Dating the Book of Obadiah to 801 BC.

Bruce is the recipient of the Reserve Forces Decoration and Bar, and the Australian Active Service Medal having served on seven RAAF Bases over twenty years. He retired from the Royal Australian Air Force Specialist Reserve having served as the Chaplain (Squadron Leader). He has taught high school science, mathematics, and physics. Bruce ministered in six parishes of the Presbyterian Church in four states of Australia over forty years and continues some part-time ministry and preaching.

Presentation Abstract

Korean students enrolled in a Theological English course were residents and overseas students. Most were married, some being pastors or pastors’ kids, and actively serving at a small to medium sized church. Most of them had limited exposure to the Australian community, culture and the English language.

While the students’ English competencies varied from beginner to upper intermediate level, they struggled with the culture and the language barriers which consequently undermined their confidence and effectiveness in ministering in Australia, especially to the second generation youths.

In addition, they had keen interests and awareness of what was happening in Korea, but many had limited exposure to and interest in the Australian and world events. Their experiences seemed limited to the Korean Christian migrant communities and I sometimes felt they were living in a ‘bubble’, ‘sheltered’ and ‘protected’ within the four walls of their churches and communities.

Using the example of “A Frog in boiling water” to analyse results from surveying students, the paper explores the influence of secular worldviews and trends, and the ‘christianising’ of other religious practices and secular beliefs, on those seeking to establish and live by  a Christian worldview.