Faculty Spotlight: John Cunningham

Full-time faculty profile picture from the Providence website.
Full-time faculty profile picture from the Providence website.

by Kavin Carter

Dr. John Cunningham is the Director of the First Year Experience and assistant professor of philosophy here at Providence. He has a doctorate in religious studies and historical theology and has done private counseling and counseling as a pastor as well.

“So I thought I was going to be a pastor and just be an academic as well but it’s too hard to do both,” joked Cunningham.

When he was young he wanted to be an academic instead of going into ministry. While he was doing his PhD, he was at a church he really loved and he kept teaching there. Eventually the church asked him to come on staff and he felt that the Lord was calling him to be a pastor after all.

“Now it’s come completely back around and I’m in an academic position,” he said

His time as a pastor definitely has an impact on his outlook regarding how to teach. “I’ve always been a little of both, part pastoral and part academic and I am always looking for ways to blend both. I want to be pastoral but I also want to push people’s minds to think deeper,” Cunningham said.

Dr. Cunningham is giving a paper in Tucson, Arizona this month on Johnathan Edwards’ Trinitarian vision of social justice. This means that  individuals can use his idea of the trinity (God the father, God the son and the Holy Spirit) in uniting diversity as a model for social justice.

Over the summer, Cunningham plans to work on his first book, which will be about Trinitarian aesthetics, based on his 350-page doctoral dissertation. “The book will focus on Jonathan Edwards’ view of beauty within the model of the trinity,” Cunningham said.  For information on Johnathan Edwards and Cunningham’s view, visit theallendercenter.org.