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 A Review of
Road to Holiness
dus and the waters of baptism, as a symbol expressing a vital per- sonal experience of God in the believer’s life.
The accompanying Study Guide for Road to Holiness of- fers a brief introductory comment on each passage section, as well as a series of probing questions challenging the reader to engage in deep reflection by taking per- sonal spiritual inventory, and a short prayer.
Pandemic solitude over the past two years necessitated an exploration of spiritual practices and disciplines where gathering together in person was not pos- sible. It was into this time and setting that Road to Holiness ap- peared. The book could serve as a personal devotional with each chapter offering a daily reflec- tion, or as the basis for a group study. Theijsmeijer has given to the church the gift of opening us up once again to the mystical and spiritual treasures in the Fourth Gospel.
ri, the deep sense of being “us” rather than “me,” and of Han, the undeserved suffering of hu- man beings. She talks a lot about light, wind, breath and vibration, especially as manifest in music (including jazz!), being channels of the Holy Spirit’s workings.
The second theme is intersec- tionality. It recognizes that people live multiple, intersecting systems of oppression and domination that often determine what is noticed and what is not. By seeing and hearing new voices, we awaken to the dynamics of those systems in a way that shines a light on the suffering they impose on others and on us. (See Intersectional Theology: An Introductory Guide, written by Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Susan M. Shaw, Fortress Press, 2018.)
Kim’s whole body of work is a good introduction to a progres- sive reformulation of the Christian tradition that models a form of traditional innovation that is not defined by ancient male theo- logians working out of imperial church perspectives. Set within the context of her own story of gaining visibility and vocality, this book is narrative theology at its best as it opens up for its readers new possibilities for the church’s missioning.
To read an excerpt from Invisi- ble, see page 46 of the Spring edi- tion of the Presbyterian Connec- tion newspaper, available online at
 By the Rev. Tim Purvis, Ministry and Church Vocations
Road to Holiness: The Spiritual Journey in the Gospel of John Written by the Rev. Tijs Theijsmeijer
Westbow Press, 2021
The Gospel According to John has long been regarded as the most deeply symbolic and mystical of the four gospels. Beloved by the early church, Christian writers and theologians were drawn to what Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215 CE) called the “spiritual Gospel.” Spiritual commentaries on John’s Gospel abounded as these writers were caught up in reflection on the deeper spiritual significance of its stories and imagery.
Tijs Theijsmeijer’s book, Road
to Holiness: The Spiritual Journey in the Gospel of John, is in some ways a 21st-century descendent of these ancient spiritual com- mentaries. It is not intended as an academic exposition of passages, but rather as a running devotional commentary offering insights for the reader’s spiritual journey to- ward a living relationship with the living God in Christ. The book is laid out in a three-plus-one struc- ture with the first sections follow- ing the threefold pattern of the spiritual journey from Purgation through Illumination to Union, and the fourth section on the Resur- rection Life. Theijsmeijer writes from an evangelical Presbyterian and Reformed perspective, com- plete with references to Calvin, the Shorter Catechism and even the Book of Forms. His reflections
on the gospel passages frequent- ly draw spiritual allegorical signifi- cance from the text. For example, the six stone water jars at the wedding at Cana represent the six means of grace from the Book of Common Order (scripture, prayer, sacraments, worship, fasting/ meditation and community); and the cleansing of the temple repre-
drawn into the warm embrace of a Korean Presbyterian Church in that city. Eventually, Grace felt called to ministry, studied at Knox College in Toronto, did doctoral work in the Toronto School of Theology, is an ordained minis- ter with the Presbyterian Church USA, and now teaches at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana. She is a prolific writer (authored or edited more than 20 books), an astute user of the vari- ous social media channels avail- able these days, and a champion of voices, including her own, that would greatly strengthen the church’s witness if heard with respect.
The particular focus in this book is Asian American (and Ca- nadian) women. The stories Kim recounts of her relationships with her grandmothers, her mother,
sents the cleansing of the Chris- tian’s spiritual life. His exploration of key images in John’s Gospel traces their use throughout the scriptures, connecting them to a spiritual insight. His treatment of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well ties “living water” with the waters of creation, the waters of the flood, the waters of the exo-
her sister and the women in the Korean Presbyterian Church in London, Ont., are poignant. As they touch our souls with their la- ment, we get a powerful sense of what it means to really hear new voices.
The stories Kim analyzes are complex, especially as they over- lap. Her descriptive language is telling—“model minority,” “en- closed,” “hidden,” “submissive,” “sexualized,” “exotic,” “legacy of shame” and “barely visible shad- ows.” Kim reveals a complex net of racism from without and sex- ism from within her immigrant community that keeps visibility and vocality for Asian American women on the margins.
But there is another dimension of this dynamic—one embodied by Kim herself. She has found in the Christian community and its traditions a source of respect, resilience and reform that brings her race and gender to redemp- tive visibility.
Kim has written eloquently on two themes that are woven through this practical application of her Christian faith to her context as an Asian American woman.
The first theme is the Holy Spirit. She has reformulated the Reformed articulation of that doctrine in dialogue with the Asian concepts of Chi, that life- giving energy that infuses our daily lives, of Jeong, the “sticky love” that binds us together in all of our interdependencies, of Ou-
  A Review of
By the Rev. Brian Fraser, Brentwood Presbyterian Church in Burnaby, B.C.
Invisible: Theology and the Expe- rience of Asian American Women Written by Grace Ji-Sun Kim Fortress Press, 2021
One of the most challenging di- mensions of missioning with and through today’s church is the cultural impact of new means of connecting and communicating. New voices are being heard. New people are becoming visible. New relationships are being cultivat- ed—or rejected.
This broader range of vocal- ity and visibility changes our perception and practice of being church. It opens up new situa- tions through which God is inspir- ing and instructing us to reformu- late our understanding of how to be faithful, wise and effective as ambassadors of God’s forgiving and reconciling love made most manifest in Jesus, the Christ. That’s what Canadian Presbyteri- ans have discerned as the great affirmation of the core truth of the gospel—God has made us ambassadors of God’s forgiving and reconciling love for the whole
When people who have previ-
ously gone unnoticed are seen and heard, they challenge and disrupt the ways we have prac- ticed that calling. How, then, do we find the compassion that will lead us into a more comprehen- sive sense of the coherence of the Christian faith as we experience it practiced in Jesus, our triune cre- ator’s Christ? How do we find the courage to hear those voices with respect, especially when they criticize the ways we have been habituated into living together?
In Invisible, Grace Ji-Sun Kim takes us deep into the world of the invisible and the silenced. She is a reflective storyteller, finding in her experience the slow but sure workings of her God who encourages her to find her vis- ibility and vocality. She is also a prophetic presence in today’s church, bringing to her reading of the gospel and to our calling to be its ambassadors a fresh vision of how the church and its contribu- tors show up as the triune crea- tor’s companions in the care of all creation.
At the age of 5, Grace came to Canada with her family, and they settled in London, Ont. They were

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