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Affluent Christian Investor | December 10, 2018

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North vs. South Korea, Opposite Responses to the Gospel

The Korean Peninsula, highlighted in Green.

Pyongyang was once known as the “Jerusalem of the East”, because it was the center of evangelization of the Asian world. My impression is that Korea illustrates the principle that when the gospel comes to a people they are inevitably changed, either for the better or for the worse. If the nation receives the teachings of Christianity over and over again the story is the same – that acceptance becomes the inflection point in that nation’s rise in technological, economic and social progress. Over and over again, Christianization is the precursor to modernization. But sometimes the message is rejected so as to be inverted. For example, Kim Jong-Un’s grandfather, the founder of the communist regime, heard the stories of the Gospels and saw them as an opportunity, not to follow Christ, but to become a Christ figure. He saw the power of the stories, but rewrote them in his own image, creating his own nativity mythology with images borrowed (badly) from the Gospels. For example, in the gospel of Kim Il-sung, a star shines above the birthplace of the future ruler of North Korea at his birth. He created a messianic personality cult which held that he was the creator of the universe who was incarnated in 1912 as a human being. South Korea read the story of the Gospel and embraced Jesus way of humility and love. It came to worship a God who as man had defied the state and been executed by it, and in so doing shifted the locus of moral authority away from the collective towards the individual. North Korea, on the other hand, had forced upon it a cult which divinized the dictator. This, above all things, is what led one half of the nation to what is probably the fastest sustained improvement in standard of living of any nation in the history of the world, and the other nation to become the lowest hell on earth. Yes, market economics is critical, but market economics do not occur in a vacuum. No society which divinizes the ruler can truly become and remain free. No people who truly recognize that there is a Power above the powers that be, can truly become and remain permanently enslaved.

Jerry Bowyer is a Forbes contributor, contributing editor of, and Senior Fellow in Business Economics at The Center for Cultural Leadership.

Jerry has compiled an impressive record as a leading thinker in finance and economics. He worked as an auditor and a tax consultant with Arthur Anderson, as Vice President of the Beechwood Company which is the family office associated with Federated Investors, and has consulted in various privatization efforts for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He founded the influential economic think tank, the Allegheny Institute, and has lectured extensively at universities, businesses and civic groups.

Jerry has been a member of three investment committees, among which is Benchmark Financial, Pittsburgh’s largest financial services firm. Jerry had been a regular commentator on Fox Business News and Fox News. He was formerly a CNBC Contributor, has guest-hosted “The Kudlow Report”, and has written for, National Review Online, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as many other publications. He is the author of The Bush Boom and more recently The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide, published by HarperCollins. Jerry is the President of Bowyer Research.

Jerry consulted extensively with the Bush White House on matters pertaining to the recent economic crisis. He has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, The International Herald Tribune and various local newspapers. He has been a contributing editor of National Review Online, The New York Sun and Townhall Magazine. Jerry has hosted daily radio and TV programs and was one of the founding members of WQED’s On-Q Friday Roundtable. He has guest-hosted the Bill Bennett radio program as well as radio programs in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.

Jerry is the former host of WorldView, a nationally syndicated Sunday-morning political talk show created on the model of Meet The Press. On WorldView, Jerry interviewed distinguished guests including the Vice President, Treasury Secretary, HUD Secretary, former Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice, former Presidential Advisor Carl Rove, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and publisher Steve Forbes.

Jerry has taught social ethics at Ottawa Theological Hall, public policy at Saint Vincent’s College, and guest lectured at Carnegie Mellon’s graduate Heinz School of Public Policy. In 1997 Jerry gave the commencement address at his alma mater, Robert Morris University. He was the youngest speaker in the history of the school, and the school received more requests for transcripts of Jerry’s speech than at any other time in its 120-year history.

Jerry lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Susan, and the youngest three of their seven children.


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