Reading Is Believing

The Christian Faith through Literature and Film

Cover Art

Where to Purchase


In this fascinating and fresh look at the Apostles' Creed, David Cunningham argues that reading fiction and film can lead Christians to a deeper, more precise, and more experiential knowledge of their faith. Drawing on novels, plays, and films by the likes of Dickens, Shakespeare, P. D. James, and Graham Greene, Cunningham discusses the Apostles' Creed in detail, using one primary text to illuminate each article.

Cunningham begins with a brief history of the Christian creeds and their significance. In addition to plot summaries, each chapter includes discussion questions addressing the relationship between literature and faith and concludes with a works cited list and a list for further reading.

This book will delight Christians who want to better understand the creeds and basic doctrinal confessions of the Christian faith. While academics, theologians, and literature and film aficionados will celebrate
Cunningham's keen literary and theological insights, the book is equally readable for those with little background in these fields of study.

Reading Is Believing is an ideal text for Christian education classes, adult Sunday school, and church-based book clubs. It will serve well as a text in theology courses, as well as various courses in the humanities, ethics, and cultural and religious studies.


"Many books on religion and culture deal in vague generalities about the holy and the human. David Cunningham's Reading Is Believing offers a refreshing counterapproach. In twelve chapters focusing on each phrase of the Apostles' Creed, Cunningham provides rich reflections on the central claims of Christian faith as they impinge on specific literary and cinematic works. His treatment of Helen Prejean's 'Dead Man Walking' in relation to the forgiveness of sins, as well Graham Greene's 'The End of the Affair' as it is illuminated by the resurrection of the flesh, are small masterpieces of theological judgment."--Ralph C. Wood, Baylor University

"This is "theology through the arts" in an accessible, beautifully written, and provocative form. Literature is given space to do its own kind of theological work in its own kind of way."-Jeremy Begbie, Author of Voicing Creation's Praise: Towards a Theology of the Arts, University of St. Andrews

"David Cunningham has given his readers two gifts: an engaging explication of the Apostles' Creed, together with stories that make its truth come alive for us. Here is a book for head, heart, and hands."-Robert K. Johnston, Author of Reel Spirituality: Theology and Film in Dialogue, Fuller Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. David S. Cunningham

    David S. Cunningham

    DAVID S. CUNNINGHAM is professor of theology and ethics at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. He is the author of These Three Are One and the award-winning Faithful Persuasion.

    Continue reading about David S. Cunningham


2002 Book of the Year Award, Foreword Magazine

"Cunningham gives us a strong theological study of the Christian faith using the words of the Apostles' Creed parsed into twelve chapter headings. . . . Although the book can be well appreciated by one person reading alone, it is designed to provide a richer experience for a group entering into the study together, perhaps over a period of time. . . . This is a good book to own for studying the creed more thoroughly, preaching the faith more relevantly, and stretching one's spiritual self more fruitfully."-William Hethcock, Sewanee Theological Review

"The greatest strength of this text is its connection between systematic statements of belief and story. By incarnating theology in story, Cunningham returns theology to the genre of narrative from whence it came. As theology approaches narrative, its application and appreciation are enriched. Cunningham should be commended for this effort. His work is articulate, educational, and perhaps most impressively, never boring. His work is one of the best short introductions to Christian theology I have read."--John Vassar, Journal of Religion and Popular Culture

"There is much need for books like this one. . . . While the book will leave the reader wanting more of a taste for this kind of literary examination, it is still very full of the right kind of questions and pertinent discussion. Cunningham is unflinching in his desire to approach each text with a certain openness that leaves room for the grittiness of life. Reading is Believing is an excellent jumping-off-point for those who desire to engage their full imaginations in their pursuit of God."-Eric Hurtgen, Relevant

"[Cunningham] displays considerable perceptivity and thoughtfulness. . . . Reading Is Believing is frequently intriguing and rewarding."-Alan Cochrum, Ft. Worth Star Telegram

"[Cunningham] draws mutually illuminating points from both creedal statements and narrative texts without concealing the differences or collapsing the tensions between them. . . . As long as books such as [this] are used by church groups, churches can be counted on to do a work basic not only to their own vitality but also to the task of reading texts that clarify how and to what extent Christianity finds preparation, specification, and embodiment within its current, complex cultural setting."-Wesley A. Kort, Theology Today

"I found [Cunningham's] discussions of the literary pieces enticing and evocative."--Richard C. Stern, Homiletic

"A winsome book. . . . Cunningham defends [his] approach articulately, and his juxtapositions of creedal statements and literary works effectively deepen our appreciation of both. . . . Reading Is Believing would be excellent for study with a committed Sunday school class or book group."--Arthur Paul Boers, Vision

"A helpful introduction to the Apostle's Creed. . . . Cunningham closes each chapter with helpful questions for discussion and suggestions for further reading in both theology and in literature and films. . . . This book would be a helpful and accessible supplemental text for graduate or undergraduate introductory courses in theology."--Russell W. Dalton, Religious Studies Review

"How can dry creedal concepts be transformed into dynamic elements of Christian faith and experience for college students and others who prefer literature to theology? [Cunningham] has an interesting approach. . . . This book may be helpful to a young (or older) adult grappling with issues of faith or as a resource for a yearlong reading group needing a new approach."--Lucille M. Boone, Church and Synagogue Libraries

"With Reading is Believing, David S. Cunningham continues the admirable balancing act of writing about densely theological topics in an upbeat, accessible style. . . . A worthy addition to any theological library, useful for personal meditation as well as a rewarding source for discussions in both religious and academic contexts"--Robert F. Darden III, Journal of Religious and Theological Information

"Plenty of books and theses discuss religion and culture, but more often than not the results are one-dimensional: a purely academic text in which theology dominates and has little to do with the everyday workings of faith, or else a culturally dense text, in which examinations of the popular diminish the relevance of the divine. However, Cunningham is keen to avoid these textual traps and I believe he succeeds with great skill."--Katherine Crawford, Zadok Perspectives