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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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Chapter 1. The Image of God: A Self-Grammar in Worship

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In his book Worship and Christian Identity, E. Byron Anderson states that “Christian worship provides a ‘grammar’ of the self through which we interpret our relationships to God and neighbor.”1 Christian worship is not only a time and space for praising God, but also for discovering who we are in relationship to God and our neighbors. In other words, Christians acquire a self-grammar through the practice of worship.2 Through the practice of Christian worship “we make meaning about our lives and acquire a sense of orientation to why and where we are.”3

What kind of self-grammars have female-women4 acquired in the practice of Christian worship? One of the grammars that we have been familiar with is the conviction that we are created in the image of God just as male Christians are. The creation account in Genesis 1 has been the main source for that grammar. Nevertheless, Christian worship hardly provides any grammar to support and affirm the resemblance between God and female-woman. Rather, the language of Christian worship has provided a mistaken grammar for female Christians and even for males. The words and images for God in our ← 5 | 6 → practices of worship are filled with masculine pronouns, titles or names, and other metaphors that evoke male-like beings.

Christian worship practices as ritual and ritualization “give life sense and value.”5 Through the language of symbol and the images of God in Christian worship, we not only praise God, but also discover who...

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