My postmodern, anti-Cartesian statement is so true to my soul: "I exist; therefore, I think and feel. I accept my existence as it is; therefore, I rest secured and breathe smoothly. I am what I feel; therefore, I exist. I must listen to the voice and feeling of my soul." --Yung Suk Kim
Today, at Virginia Union University commencement, I was honored to receive the Scott & Stringfellow Outstanding Professor Award. It comes with a monetary gift. This is a true blessing on my birthday. I thank my family, friends, students, colleagues, and others who have supported me tirelessly. In the last 14 years, I have tried my best and will continue to strive for excellence. Danny Glover spoke powerfully to the graduating class of 2019; he said something like this: “Resistance and sustainable activism are the ingredients of social change.” He is an award-winning actor, producer ("Color Purple" movie) and humanitarian. One other notable thing at this ceremony was one alum’s (Dr. Virginia Howerton, ‘65) donation of 2.5 million dollars to the university, the largest one-time gift from anyone in the history of Virginia Union University. Indeed, she made a lasting impact on many graduates who heard her speaking today.
This book questions all familiar readings of “the body of Christ” in Paul’s letters and helps readers rethink the context and the purpose of this phrase. Against the view that Paul’s body of Christ metaphor mainly has to do with a metaphorical organism that emphasizes unity, Kim argues that the body of Christ metaphor has more to do with the embodiment of God’s gospel through Christ. While Deutero-Pauline Letters and Pastoral Letters use this body metaphor mainly as an organism, Paul’s undisputed letters, in particular, 1 Corinthians and Romans, treat it differently with a focus on Christic embodiment. Reexamining the diverse use of “the body of Christ” in Paul’s undisputed letters, this book argues that Paul’s body of Christ metaphor has to do with the proclamation of God’s gospel. “Concisely describing how ‘the body of Christ’ must be reimagined as ‘the Christic body,’ Kim’s argumentation has wide-reaching implications for those of us who fight for liberation and justice within church and society. Providing a launching point that will allow scholars and pastors to teach and model ‘soft-union’ in Christ while uplifting particularity in communion, Kim’s interpretation of Pauline theology and ethics will enliven conversations in the classroom and the church for years to come.
—Angela Parker, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology “Yung Suk Kim offers fresh insight into the heart of Paul’s theology: the body of Christ. Interestingly, Kim challenges the reader by reconstructing Christ’s body as a union in solidarity with those on the margins, especially in the hierarchical systems prevalent in the Roman imperial society and culture. No doubt, his theological reimagination can empower today’s Christians to resist unity without diversity in the so-called post-truth era of Trump. This little but powerful book thus holds onto hope for embodying Paul’s teaching in a more responsible manner.”
—Sung Uk Lim, Assistant Professor of New Testament, College of Theology & United Graduate School of Theology, Yonsei University "With illuminating analysis of key texts, Kim offers a concise and timely understanding of the body of Christ in Paul's letters that challenges hegemonic models and reminds us that care for the poor and pursuing justice for the weak of society are at the heart of the gospel and Christian living."
—Timothy Milinovich, Associate Professor & Chair of Theology, Director of Catholic Studies, Dominican University
I am nobody; therefore, I am somebody. Because I am somebody, I am not nobody. Because I am not nobody, I can live for myself and others.
Each person is given some kind of talents. Yet he/she is also given a lot of deficiencies and dark matters inside of himself/herself. A good starting point of transformation is the realization that "I am weak or limited." When I am weak, I see and feel the weakness of others. When I confess to God that "I am nobody," God would say: "No, you are not nobody; you are someone special." When I confess I am weak before God, I gain new energy or spirit from above. That is a moment of a spiritual birth from above (c.f., John 3:5-6). This new birth is made again and again. It happens when I feel connected with God through this nothingness. I stand before others with this same nothingness and find solidarity with them. I love them not because I am over them but because I feel the same weakness with them.
Through nothingness, I feel I am someone, who shares the weakness of others. The feeling of I am someone is not based on superiority to others or based on special gifts held by me.
The time or moment of "I am someone" is not perpetual. I still may hit hard roads and make mistakes. I may feel disappointed with myself. I feel I am worthless and may torment me. At such a moment, I have to accept what I am. In other words, I have to acknowledge I am not perfect and I am very limited and deficient. From there, I have to rework self-transformation. That is to feel nothing before God and to love me as I am. I am that I am. I am not beyond what I am. Accepting what I am, I may go through a process of transformation again.
Then, I can say I am not nobody. I am somebody. I can live a worthy life and live for others.