Date of Graduation

Summer 2016


Master of Arts in Religious Studies


Religious Studies

Committee Chair

John Schmalzbauer


Evangelical, Christianity, conservative, authority, power, social, Bible, American, South Korean, international, critique

Subject Categories



This thesis explores and compares the ways in which the Bible is read, interpreted, and held as an authority by conservative Evangelicals in the United States and South Korea. By examining the history, literary practices, and social systems in each country, I reveal authorities other than the Bible that emerge from Evangelical culture. Discourse theory, reader-response theory, and rhetorical criticism provide the theoretical lenses through which each expression is viewed. My research strategies included: (1) a six month ethnographic project held in two Korean Evangelical communities; and (2) a survey of Korean laity. Data were collected from direct observations, Evangelical media, sermon notes, and the survey conducted in Korea. This study also critiques arguments that position biblical literalism and perspicuity as broad Evangelical identifiers. This critique reinforces the need for non-Western based studies on Evangelicalism. By revealing the range of historical, social and ideological influences that affect conservative Evangelical power structures, the claim of ultimate biblical authority is shown to be a mask for the diverse forms of authority that actually exist in the American and Korean expressions of conservative Evangelicalism.


© Harold Arthur Brower

Open Access

Included in

Religion Commons