Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Reading Theologically

Reading Theologically serves as an introduction to seminary reading for new students and seminary prospects. The goal of the book is to encourage seminarians to read in various ways in order to most benefit from all the reading that necessarily goes along with seminary. By using different authors for each chapter, readers of this book get a fresh perspective on reading within an institution of higher learning.

Although the book includes authors from a variety of seminaries, they are all at least moderately liberal, and some even more so. By liberal I mean that tacitly endorsing women as church elders, validating homosexual lifestyles, and affirming multiple interpretations of any given Bible passage as equally valid. Only one contributor, a female professor from Wheaton College who is a candidate for the priesthood within the Episcopal Church, wrote about reading and interpreting the Bible in a way that understood the Bible as having meaning rather than us assigning meaning to what we read in it. The general feeling I took away from the book is that we should read widely and be open to everything we read.

Admittedly, I enjoyed much of what I read, and the tips on reading and evaluating what we read are valuable for new students, especially if they are going to be analyzing what they believe for the first time. Someone planning on attending a more liberal or ecumenical school would likely benefit more from this book than someone going to a school affiliated with a particular denomination. However, the book could have benefitted from a few more conservative voices and a chapter on exercising discernment and on a healthy diet of orthodoxy. There’s a place for reading literature from a vast array of theological positions, but we also need a healthy diet of reading that will encourage us in our faith, not merely challenge us.

I received this book from Fortress Press for the purpose of review.

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