GTU Alum Profile | Dr. Junghyung Kim (PhD, 2011)
Dr. Kim received his PhD in Systematic and Philosophical Theology from the GTU in 2011. He started working at Yonsei University as an Associate Professor of Philosophy of Religion in March 2022. Before Yonsei, Dr. Kim worked at Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary in Seoul.
GTU: Congratulations on your recent appointment at Yonsei University! How did your time at the GTU prepare you for the work you are now doing at Yonsei University?
Dr. Kim: At Yonsei University, I am teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses in the field of philosophy of religion as well as science-religion dialogue, and supervising graduate students writing their theses. I must admit that while studying at the GTU, I had acquired several qualities required for any theologian pursuing an academic career—critical thinking, creative imagination, research and writing skills engaging with recent studies, syllabus planning, and ways of communicating with colleagues and students. In particular, the GTU trained me in innovative methodology for inter-disciplinary research, which I believe was crucial to my recent appointment in the university setting and is expected to play a crucial role in my future works.
GTU: What initially led you to the GTU for your PhD studies?
Dr. Kim: It is the GTU’s people who first drew my attention to this prestigious institution for my doctoral studies. When I was preparing for the application, one of the Korean GTU alumni strongly recommended me this school. At that time there were several Korean students at the GTU whom I already knew and respected. Besides, I had a very good impression of the GTU, thanks to my memorable experiences as an exchange student at the Toronto School of Theology, Canada, whose milieu is quite similar in several respects with that of the GTU.
GTU: What word would you use to describe the GTU?
Dr. Kim: I would like to describe the GTU as a unique institution dedicated to the pioneering theological works and innovating theological education for the rapidly changing global world. I can confidently say that a good number of contemporary cutting-edge issues are being dealt with at the GTU, including intercultural/interreligious dialogues and theological/ethical issues derived from unprecedented advancements of science and technology.
GTU: With whom did you connect at the GTU who made an impact on you and your work?
Dr. Kim: At the very first meeting, Prof. Ted Peters broadened my theological perspective to see the cosmic horizon of Christian hope and introduced me to work with Prof. Robert John Russell as well at the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS). Since then, both professors have been my academic mentors and supporters up until now. In addition to them, the CTNS “lab” meetings, where I could enjoy friendship with excellent students at the GTU, were great challenges to and motivations for my own self-critical intellectual reflections. It also convinced me of the importance of collaborations in productive academic works. Finally, and not the least, the association of Korean students at the GTU helped me overcome homesickness and focus on the studies.
GTU: What are you especially proud of from your time at the GTU?
Dr. Kim: The best thing I wish to boast about the GTU is the spirit of hospitality and encouragement. I do not remember any discrimination or suppression that I had experienced while staying at Berkeley and studying at the GTU. Rather, I received great encouragements, especially regarding my intellectual abilities. At first, I had little confidence in my own academic potentials as well as in my English proficiency. During my studies at the GTU, however, I received most memorable awards in my career: the CTNS Charles H. Townes Fellowship, the First Award in the ISSR Essay Competition (International Society for Science and Religion), the Chan Prize in Religion and Economics, and the Newhall Award for Teaching.
GTU: What are the key concerns and themes of your work today? What courses are you teaching? Have those concerns and themes changed since your time at the GTU? If so, how?
Dr. Kim: The primary interests of my work today are readdressing and reconstructing philosophy of religion and Christian theology for an age of science and technology. With this regard, I am teaching such courses as “Big History and the Story of God,” “Science, Technology, and Global Philosophy of Religion,” and “New Ways of Doing Theology (in an Age of Science and Technology).” All these courses are both a continuation and a meaningful expansion of my doctoral studies at the GTU.
GTU: What recent publications are you especially proud of? With whom are you hoping this work will connect? What difference do you hope this work will make?
Dr. Kim: Recently I published two articles in Theology and Science. The title of the first article is “The ETI [Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life] Hypothesis and the Scandal of Particularity.” In this work I attempted a thought experiment on the cosmic-scale reconstruction of theological reflection. The second article, “A Qualification of Methodological Naturalism: Brightman and de Vries Revisited,” argues for the validity of methodological naturalism in a qualified sense. In both articles I tried to create space for new theological imaginations that take seriously both undeniable accomplishments of modern sciences and the enormous scale of our space-time disclosed by them. I believe it is time for us to develop a new perspective that overcomes the anthropocentric framework of traditional theologies (and religions), which can no longer survive the challenges from recent scientific discoveries and technological innovations.
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