Well, I have been on summer vacation from my first year at Wheaton College (IL) for twenty-one days now. Those twenty-one days have been an excellent time to remember and reflect on the year. And there are SO many things to remember and reflect on, but to impress my parents, I will being with my major. Just kidding. But really…mom and dad you can continue to be impressed.
I am an English major with a writing concentration. Practically, that means I have to take 8 credit hours of foundational course work, 16 credit hours of literary historical framework, and 16 credit hours of writing. I have wanted to major in English with a writing concentration at Wheaton College since 7th grade. Praise Jesus; the dream has come true. I took ENGL 224, my English Topical Seminar, this past Spring semester as part of my foundational course work with Professor Tiffany Kriner. It class was titled “Reading Theologically.” Now you may be thinking, “how quaint,” “how Wheaton,” or “how terrible.”
What does “reading theologically” even mean? How does one read theologically? Why would one want to read theologically?” All excellent questions. I asked of all of them before entering the class.
My professor, Tiffany Kriner, has written an entire book on this very subject titled, The Eschatology of the Word. (No, I am not receiving extra credit for this blog post…not that I couldn’t have used it.)
From what I gathered from the class, to read theologically is to read texts knowing and appreciating their part in Kingdom of God. And their part in the Kingdom not only presently, but also in the future. Texts–literary and otherwise–are part of God’s larger Creation and as such, are part of His redemptive plan for the world. Because of this and because readers are part of God’s larger Creation too, readers’ engagement with texts can cultivate both of their futures in the Kingdom. Blessedly, all of this is true in spite of the fallenness and failures of texts and readers alike. Reading theologically is a posture of appreciation, understanding, and reconciliation.
Knowing that one can and should read theologically has changed the way that I consume texts. They have deeper meanings as well as applications. This is not limited to the Bible or other religious texts. It applies to Austen, Steinbeck, and Homer too.
God spoke Creation into being. He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1:2). He also “called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night'” (Genesis 1:5). God used and uses words. We have the Bible, you know. And just as every elementary school teacher would remind us, words have power.
They also have a place in the Kingdom of God.