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Female Images of God in Christian Worship

In the Spirituality of "TongSungGiDo</I> of the Korean Church


Kim MyungSil

Female Images of God in Christian Worship: In the Spirituality of TongSungGiDo of the Korean Church examines problems that arise from the use of exclusively patriarchal images in modern Christian worship. The author asserts that female images in the Bible could help worshippers find a relationship with God and provide encouragement and comfort in difficult situations. As a Korean Christian, MyungSil Kim explores the possibilities of employing God’s female images in the services of the Korean Church, noting that Korea’s native religions, the ancient religions and Muism, had many female deities unlike patriarchal foreign religions such as Buddhism and Confucianism. These female deities have comforted the Korean people when they experienced han, a distinctive emotion of deep sadness and resentment that is characteristically Korean. TongSungGiDo, the unique Korean prayer style of communal lament, provides an opportune space and time for the consideration of female images in the Bible. MyungSil Kim examines how female images could more effectively function in the context of TongSungGiDo in accordance with traditional practices to express the complementarity among the concepts of han, lament, female images of God, and prayer. This book is strongly grounded on biblical studies, feminist studies, Christian ethics, and religious studies, including principles of inculturation. The volume is a valuable resource to pastors who are sensitive about language justice in worship and to those seeking to explore feminist theology and particularly feminist liturgical studies.
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← viii | 1 → Introduction


When I suffered from a gynecologic disease in my late twenties, I questioned whether God would know my physical pain and the subsequent mental and physiological sufferings. This was because I had been taught that female/woman is inferior to male/man, and only the male body represents God, the Father. In those days, I was hardly able to pray to God because I couldn’t find the appropriate words for God. If God is male, how could God know and be sympathetic to my suffering? Since then, my journey of exploring God’s gender in relation to the identity of worshipping women has continued.

During the journey, I recognized the deep contradiction between the biblical teaching in Genesis 1:26 that female and male are created according to God’s image and the Christian tradition’s hegemonic assumption that the female body cannot represent God’s image. It has inspired me to trace female images of God in the Bible and to examine the female deities in the religious traditions of the neighboring countries of ancient Israel and ancient Korea. It has encouraged me to seek ways to use such images in the context of Korean Christian worship.

While researching the biblical female images of God and the female deities in other religious traditions, I realized that the activities of female deities were primarily related to lamentable situations. Thus, I found an experimental setting for God’s female images in the Korean Church: TongSungGiDo (TSGD). TSGD, a particular form of lamenting prayer expressed...

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