What is the point of asking theological questions?

As human beings, we are constantly learning and discovering new things. And our curiosity about what we learn, or at least provisionally accept, prompts us to ask new questions.

The Restless Reader

Written By John Tintera

There are three unfinished spiritual books on my night stand plus two more on my iPod.

I’m also in the middle of a history of the American Ci vil War and Proust’s first novel.  My night stand also holds several tried and true spiritual books that bring me comfort, depending on my mood.

I have been reading spiritual books since 1990 or so, and have yet to settle into a favorite genre or field. The range of books I've read includes Christian theology and spirituality (conservative and liberal), Christology, Pneumatology, Mariology, church history, poetry, Eastern philosophy, and new age.

I  say this not to brag, but to confess a weakness. In fact, I believe this spiritual restlessness is a sign of my brokenness—proof of the existence of “original sin” in my soul, if you will. My wife thinks my intellectual curiosity is some sort of marvel, but it is really a quest for some sort of relief. I wish I could say that I am a scholar or an intellectual, but the truth is that 18 years ago I first read the bible, John of the Cross, and Augustine, and have been looking ever since for the fix those books gave me.

These days, I have to be away from home in order to connect with words in the same way I did when I was 19. The Gideon’s bible in a hotel room—the more soulless and generic the better—brings me closest to the raw power of the Word to lift my soul. On a recent business trip, the first two chapters of II Kings touched me like a burning coal, searing away my homesickness, depression, and anxiety. That sort of transportation rarely happens any more, even during church services.

Many of the great spiritual writers such as Thomas a Kempis warn against seeking out spiritual consolations, saying that grace is the sole provenance of God. They also warn against intellectual curiosity for fear of pridefulness. Spiritual dryness is seen by them as a gift. Some days I wish I could accept that philosophy. I wish I could walk away from the books on my night stand and in my library and live in the freshness of the Lord. In the mean time, I will keep buying books, reading halfway into them, and hoping against hope that I will find the words that will release me from these negative emotions.