I never met Roger Lundin, but I know dozens of people who have been influenced by his life and his work as a Christian scholar. My prayers go out today to his family–especially his son Matthew Lundin, a history professor at Wheaton College who I know through our experience in the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts.
Here is the press release from Wheaton:
The Wheaton College community grieves the death of Professor of English and Arthur F. Holmes Professor of Faith and Learning Dr. Roger Lundin. Dr. Lundin died last night from unexpected complications of a heart disorder.
Dr. Lundin graduated from Wheaton College in 1971. He had been on faculty since 1978, and was widely known for his passionate teaching, his dedicated service to colleagues, and his outstanding contributions as a scholar.
“Through his scholarship, teaching, and friendship, Roger Lundin has been a spiritual and intellectual leader at Wheaton College and for Christian higher education,” says Wheaton College President Dr. Philip Graham Ryken ’88. “ As an English major, I took several courses with Dr. Lundin during my time as an undergraduate. In teaching us American literature, he really taught us about American culture and the Christian life.”
Dr. Lundin specialized his research in 19th and 20th-century American literature, the relationship of religion to literature, modern intellectual history, and the history of Christian thought. He served as the President of the Conference on Christianity and Literature, and was Visiting Fellow in Theology and the Arts at the Duke Divinity School in spring 2014.
His award-winning publications include Beginning with the Word: Modern Literature and the Question of Belief (Baker, 2014); Believing Again: Doubt and Faith in a Secular Age (Eerdmans, 2009); From Nature to Experience: The American Search for Cultural Authority (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), among many others. Edited collections include Christ Across the Disciplines: Past, Present, Future, ed. (Eerdmans, 2013); Invisible Conversations: Religion in the Literature of America (Baylor University Press, 2009); There Before Us: Religion, Literature, and Culture from Emerson to Wendell Berry (Eerdmans, 2007); and Emily Dickinson and the Art of Belief (Eerdmans, 2004).
Dr. Lundin’s articles have been published in journals and books including The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the Arts, Religion and Literature, The Beauty of God: Theology and the Arts (InterVarsity Press, 2007), and The Oxford Handbook of Evangelical Theology (Oxford University Press, 2010).
In addition to lecturing on campus, Dr. Lundin has presented at higher education institutions including Baylor University, Regent College, the University of British Columbia, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Notre Dame.
“I chose to teach English because from a very early age I had found the reading of novels a valuable and necessary experience. I found that as I went through college and seminary I had interests in history and philosophy and theology, but that I couldn’t put novels and poems and plays down. I felt I had to study them. I couldn’t leave them behind,” Dr. Lundin said in the August 1984 issue of Wheaton Magazine, where he was featured as winner of the Junior Teacher of the Year award.
“It’s inconceivable for me to think of teaching—especially teaching subject matter that deals with human values, human desires, human nature, human aspirations—without in one way or another bringing my Christian witness to the material. I think I would be naïve if I were to think that my Christian faith did not influence my reading of literature. I don’t find that a limiting thing, I find it a liberating thing. My concerns as a Christian father, a Christian husband, a Christian worker, a Christian friend, a Christian servant affect the way I read literature,” he said.
“I find it most satisfying to work through the implications of this literature with students who are Christians—or a number of times with students who find it difficult to claim the Christian faith for one reason or another. Because of my own experience, I feel it’s a very necessary task.”
Dr. Lundin is survived by his wife Susan ’71, and their children, Associate Professor of History Dr. Matthew Lundin ’96, Kirsten ’99, and Thomas ’05.
Information about a memorial service for Dr. Lundin will be posted here when it becomes available.