Quaker Universalist Voice

Speaking truth in the global public square…

Language for Comfort and Clarity Helps Us All Grope Toward Truth

A Review of Embracing the Other: The Transformative Spirit of Love by Ji-Sun Kim (2015)

Grace Kim is one of the leading feminist lights in the Asian evangelical Christian community in the United States, which is the winner among church-building communities in American Christianity.  She is a prolific writer and public intellectual.  Grace Kim is in a hurry.  She speaks with a loud voice.

Her new book, Embracing the Other: The Transformative Spirit of Love (2015), Kim addresses Quaker experience without acknowledging the Quaker tradition or current reality.  The book has an index, but no reference to the Quaker tradition.

She deals with the language of the Christian community in light of her feminist commitment. Her purpose is to free Asian women from a condition of oppression and to engage them in social movements for social justice.  This is a form of universalism. Her limitations include exclusive focus on the Christian community and current feminist priorities.

She seeks to reconstruct the traditional Christian Trinity doctrine as a Spirit God. Spirit God brings restoration to both individual and community through active struggle for justice, reconciliation, and peace.

As she formulates a description of the reality she sees, Spirit God reflects an understanding of God within each of us as Spirit, which both comforts and empowers our lives. God’s Spirit is within each person and is empowering us to work towards emancipation of all humans.  With the vocabulary tools she uses, she points in the direction traveled in the Quaker experience.

She describes the role of foreign women in the First Testament and links these stories with the oppression experience of Asian-American immigrant women in American society and in the Asian community. She aims to develop new language to empower women through re-imaging the Spirit God who is leading us all.

She seeks to retain the Trinity within her idea of God, with a unitarian spirit.  She argues that the unity of the Trinitarian God is what saves us and that the Spirit God is in the Trinity and working within the Godhead to save us.  She wants both the traditional threeness and its unity, which is so troubling to Muslims.

Kim assumes that the threeness in the Trinity is essential for understanding reality and communicating its deep truth. Others find the threeness unnecessary for communicating the truth and an obstacle to hearing that truth in others.  Quakers hear the truth both in its threeness and its oneness.

Whatever this spirit, and whatever the language for its description, Kim testifies that it is a source of transforming power for the world through women and men.  

Language is assigned by culture of context to youth.  The language of our tradition gives comfort and confidence.  Language is a developing choice for adults. Many practice several languages within a language tradition and between language traditions.  Our language can be an aid or a hindrance to clarity in communication.  Such is the experience of many.

This is not a new understanding, but it is apparently new in the American Asian Christian evangelical community of women.  It is an example of rediscovery and reworking within religious communities of language to reflect more accurately and freshly the experience in the tradition.

This book may have a hurried and strident tone.  It certainly has an aggressive energy.  

Language can be an obstacle as well as a vehicle for communication.  We all use the language of our familiar tradition to aid our understanding of reality and support our communication of our experience for others.  Kim does her share in line with the Quaker experience.


  • Which language helps you point to the reality of truth?
  • Can you hear truth in less familiar language used by others?
  • Which language is better and clearer?
  • Are we captives of the language of our tradition?


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