Reading encompasses more than merely interpreting words on a page or screen. Reading is the way we interpret the world around us. Every one of us views the world through a certain lens. This lens is called our “worldview.” As believers in Christ each one of us views the world through the lens of our theology or our what we believe about God. For those called to vocational ministry seminary is a place where our worldview is honed. Seminary is where men and women go to learn how to better read theologically. Yet, reading theologically entails more than merely reading books, articles, and papers on theological topics. Reading theologically involves the way we interpret the world through our own theological lens. In his new book Reading Theologically, editor Eric Barreto discusses the importance of seminary students learning how to read theologically. The book is written to young seminarians as they are preparing to study. It serves as a great reminder that seminary is not only a place where we go to reaffirm our theology, but to stretch our theology as we dialogue with people who believe differently.
Reading Theologically shares eight areas that challenge seminary students to read basically, meaningfully, biblically, generously, critically, differently, digitally, and spiritually. Each author writes from a different perspective giving the reader a broader view of the Christian world. The chapters on reading generously, critically, and digitally proved to be most helpful. First, as followers of Christ learning to live generously is important. We must be especially generous toward people with whom we disagree. We must be generous while listening to opposing views in order to hear what they are saying. This is the first step towards reaching common ground. Second, reading critically is just as important. We cannot read theologically without thinking critically. Thinking critically allows us to read what is being said logically, thereby allowing the reader to determine the value of the material. Third, in the Internet age it is important to read digitally. Digital material is ever growing and will be a major platform for theological resources. Reading digitally, however, forces us to employ critical reading because not everything on the Internet is true. For this reason it is crucially important to check the facts.
I personally believe that Reading Theologically should be a required text for every orientation class at all seminaries in America. We live in a culture where the person next door may hold a vastly different worldview. Today it seems that when we disagree with someone we draw battle lines in the sand. However, life does not have to be this way. Reading Theologically serves a reminder that we must learn to dialogue with people with whom we disagree theologically in an effort to better understand one another. The compilation format in which Reading Theologically is written proves to be most helpful. The chapters are written from eight different perspectives including gender, race, and theology. If you are thinking about attending seminary I highly recommend that you read Reading Theologically first.
(I received this book from Fortress Press in exchange for an honest review.)