April 2nd, 2012
06:39 PM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) - A California college where authorities say that seven people were shot dead on Monday is a religious school that caters to the burgeoning Korean American Christian community.
The number-one objective of Oikos University, in Oakland, California, is "to demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the Bible and an understanding of Christian doctrine," according to the school's website. Its number-two objective: "To develop an appreciation for the Korean and Korean-American church denomination heritage."
The school is accredited to offer just a half-dozen degrees, according to California's bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, including an associate's degree in nursing, a bachelor's in biblical studies, a master's in Asian medicine and a doctorate in ministry.
"Oikos University has a very specific goal and mission to offer education programs in the area of religious studies, music, and vocational nursing," the school's site says.
Andrew Sung Park, a professor of theology and ethics at United Theological Seminary in Ohio, says that Korean-American Christianity probably represents the fastest-growing part of the Asian American religious landscape.
The community is largely a legacy of American evangelizing in South Korea, which is now home to the world's largest Christian church.
Most of 1.3 million Korean Americans are Christian, Park said, and they generally subscribe to an evangelical Protestant version of the faith.
"There is a saying that when Koreans get together in the United States, they establish churches first," says Park, who is Korean-American. "Some other Asians are more concerned with businesses or finances, but Koreans care about religion and about Christianity."
The school's focus on Oriental medicine, including classes on acupuncture and herbal medicine, speaks to the Koreans' holistic outlook on life, blending Eastern approaches to health and medicine with Western religion, even mixing Christianity with Korea's shamanistic traditions, Park says.
"Koreans are very much interested in healing, faith healing, medical healing, spiritual healing... there is a oneness," he says.
Oikos University, which takes its name from the Greek word for "house," espouses a literal view of the Bible, which the school's site describes as "infallibly and uniquely authoritative and free from error of any sort in all matters."
The site promotes "the literal existence of Adam and Eve as the progenitors of all people, the literal fall and resultant divine curse on the creation, the worldwide cataclysmic deluge, and the origin of nations and languages at the tower of Babel."
"We believe the realities of heaven and hell," the site says.
–CNN's Eric Marrapodi contributed to this story.
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