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Education

Painting Theology

04.06.2015

Moody Student Expresses Theological Lessons Through Art

“I look around my dorm room and see my theological education on my walls, in different colors and different forms of art,” says Donovan, senior theology major, artist and poet.

I sketch You in my
pencil likeness
and paste on You
my own shaded chalkiness.

Donovan graduates this spring from Moody Bible Institute with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology. Although she has focused her entire Moody career on the study of the Old Testament and theology, she is finding that what she is learning often manifests itself in her art, like this painting and poem on the incarnation.

“I like to write and paint prayers. I’m an internal processor,” she explains. “It’s really deep or emotional or painful things that I’m working through that come out through my paint.”

“I have a lot of pieces that are basically reflections on specific doctrines: a piece on incarnation, a piece on the image of God. I’ve made them as a result of my classes.”

Growing up Curious

Donovan grew up in southern California and Florida, and her parents were always involved in ministry. The second of nine children in a Christian home, she remembers asking the hard questions about God. 

“I loved Sunday School teachers who would talk about the Greek and the Hebrew, about big words like atonement. I thought it was so interesting,” she said.

In high school Donovan began reading Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology by herself and decided she wanted to dive deeper into a study of God’s Word for her college education. Some considered studying theology an unusual choice, perhaps impractical, but it was something she felt increasingly drawn to.

“It’s something that stirs my soul like nothing else does,” she said. “Theology is really the study of God. To know Him and communicate about Him is really important to me.”

Living Out Doctrine

Studying under Moody faculty has, in Donovan’s words, “changed my life.”

She explains, “Their passion and their steadfastness toward the Lord is very inspiring. It causes students to seek to develop those characters in our own lives. We have world-renowned scholars teaching here who could probably teach anywhere else.”

Moody has helped me gain a voice theologically. I feel very humbled that this is what the Lord is calling us to do as Moody students.”

Donovan walked through a difficult time during her first two years of college. She had left a high school dating relationship after her boyfriend became sexually abusive. During her first years at Moody she sought counseling. 

“There was some pressure on me to drop out, go live with family friends and not worry about school. But, for me, to be in school meant fighting and not giving up.”

One of her friends remarked, “I don’t understand how you can still trust in the Lord after what’s happened to you.” But in her study of theology and in expressing those ideas in art and writing, Donovan found hope and strength. “I have peace and have seen that the Lord is good, even while working through difficult situations.”

“The Lord has the words of life that have been given to us. I feel like I have been living through the theological doctrines that I affirm and confess. I’ve had to wrestle through them on a very personal level.”

Donovan has appreciated her Old Testament classes with Dr. Andrew Schmutzer. “His teaching completely changed my life. I wouldn’t be going on to study the Old Testament if I hadn’t taken those classes.” 

Her senior year thesis looks at how God’s presence is manifest in Scripture. Her final paper considers the movement of God’s presence in the Old Testament—His dwelling presence, His hidden presence and His departing presence.

Teaching What She's Been Taught

After she graduates from Moody, Donovan plans to continue her study of the Old Testament and biblical theology in seminary. She would love to teach. At Moody, she has been teaching children, most recently interning at a Christian middle school with 5th graders. She decided to take their traditional Bible curriculum and highlight the theological truths within it.

“One day my students started talking about the Trinity. They didn’t understand the concept, so I was trying to explain it to them. Then they started coming up with their own theories. Being able to talk with them and realizing kids will ask these hard questions because they want to know, that is rewarding.”

In her writing, in her thinking and in her painting, Donovan is studying God:

When I finish,
with crusted-paint hands,
I stand to reflect on my
creation of God.

Train my hands
to perceive your shape
and the layers
that are truly You.

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Reflect on the Heart of God This Christmas

In this season of giving, we’d like to encourage you with a classic book from A. W. Tozer. For a gift of any size to support Moody Bible Institute, we’d love to send you his compelling book, The Attributes of God. Based on one of his most powerful sermon series, Tozer’s book includes deep insights into the heart of God, along with a study guide for deeper reflection on God’s character.

The book is our way of saying thank you for your end-of-year gift, which will help support Moody students as they prepare to reach our world for Jesus.

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