An early resolution of a conflict of values is necessary if a missionary religion is to find acceptance in the culture of the receiving society. In East Asia, under the influence of Confucianism, filial piety came to be seen as the principal personal and social moral value, which was to be given visible representation in the performance of ancestral rituals. Christian missions, Catholic and Protestant, faced a conflict between filial piety and ancestral rites on the one hand, and the proscription of the performance of idolatrous rites on the other hand. From the end of the nineteenth century, Korean Protestants have resolved this conflict by developing a Christian ritual that is a substitute for Confucian ancestral rites. Within a century, this rite has become the centerpiece of a complex of Confucian-based Christian death and funerary rituals.
James Huntley Grayson (email@example.com) is Professor of Modern Korean Studies in the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom.