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Professing the Faith [Paperback]

By Douglas John Hall (Author)
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Item description for Professing the Faith by Douglas John Hall...

What does it mean to profess the faith as North American Christians at the end of the second millennium? What is Christian theology as consciously crafted in light of the distinctive history, culture, and experience of North America? Hall marshalls doctrinal resources for a critical, creative response that stresses God's necessary involvement in an unfinished, dynamic, suffering world.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Pages   566
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6.1" Height: 1.51"
Weight:   1.73 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 1996
Publisher   Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN  080062548X  
ISBN13  9780800625481  

Availability  72 units.
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More About Douglas John Hall

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Douglas John Hall is emeritus professor of theology at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Among the most widely read theologians in North America, Hall has written many popular and acclaimed works, including Lighten Our Darkness (1976), God and Human Suffering (1987), and Why Christian? (1998), as well as a full-scale trilogy in systematic theology: Thinking the Faith (1991), Professing the Faith (1996), and Confessing the Faith (1998), all from Fortress Press.

Douglas John Hall was born in 1928.

Douglas John Hall has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Creative Pastoral Care & Counseling

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > Faith
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology

Christian Product Categories
Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Professing the Faith?

North American Protestants are down for the count, but not out  Nov 21, 2009
This review appears 16 years (2009) after the book's publication in 1993. The second volume of a trilogy by the same author, this monograph deals with "the Christian doctrine of God" (part 1: 11 chapters), "Creaturely (sic) being" (part 2: 14 chapters), and "Jesus the Christ, Savior" (part 3: 11 chapters).

Weighing 1 pound, 11.5 ounces (780 grams), the book's cruiser weight among paperback publications compares with an anticipated weekly mean-weight gain for a human infant, which happens to be exactly 27.5 ounces or 780 grams. What a difference in weight a week can make for an infant, and each gram of this book contributes weighted rhetoric to the author's goal of feeding "mainline Protestantism" sufficient contextual theological nutrients to extend "a prophetic sort of Christian witness" (Preface, ix) to the "dominant culture of this continent."

His enterprise in this volume builds upon two assumptions. First, mainline North-American Protestant Christians must know who they are by Tradition(s). Second, they must commit themselves to who they are. "Who they are" introduces Hall's distinction between profession and confession, which runs the course of the entire book. Such knowing as Hall advances entails professing love shared among Christians because they have acknowledged "...the One by whom we are known" (Introduction, p. 3). Thus, Hall appropriates Kierkegaard's use of "Christendom" to differentiate right thinking about the facts of faith, from right practice of Christian faith.

The North American situation for mainline Protestants unites former denominational and latent international opponents in discovering how they might profess Christian faith in practice without sacrificing a "genuine confession of Christ in the world" (p. 6). As Hall sees it, practice of faith counters the history of 20th-century isolation by North American theologians, who accomplished little more than affirming the 'status quo' of elitist dialectics. In part, a separation of affect and intellect had been transplanted by the Reformed tradition onto North American soil, and later ascribed Theology to scholars. Nevertheless, both affect and intellect engaged the concept of God, rather than the saving work of Christ (p. 113).

He employs dialectical methods of mainline Protestant theology as it moves from center stage to the margins of society, yet makes a good case for dropping an hegemony of professional academic theology without also fueling anti-intellectual fires. However, neither pole of affect nor pole of intellect had been effective to curb missionary excesses across several centuries following the start of triumphal and often coercive conversions by western European settlers.

Case in point that favors Hall's argument is that contact with gods and cosmologies that were foreign to the Reformed God, whom settlers imposed on native people, provided settlers no grist for inquiry about their own God. The gradient of power between settlers and native people remained a one-way street for information transfer. Just as important, without engaging their native "subjects," settlers created a two-tiered society and two-tiered theology, such that society became increasingly secular, and subjectivity alone replaced discourse about faith.

The concept of God, therefore, became an object of Christian piety to be appropriated by an individual for private purposes. Talk of God for private purposes of an individual fueled a postmodern sense of isolation, which further eroded communal dialogue and other practices consistent with the profession of faith.

Hall's solution to postmodern angst is profession of the immanence of God in Emmanuel, "God-with-us." Rescuing God from abstract concept and talk of the death of God, Emmanuel extends to the Three Divine Persons (Holy Trinity) who desire to be proximal to the creation, which is one sense of the preposition "with" as employed in "God-with-us."

However, in anticipated dialectical reasoning that introduces analogy, Hall acknowledges that God might also want to be within us. Would this mean that God-with-us would become God-within-us, the way that a romantic boyfriend might turn into a possessive and domineering husband after a wedding? No, Hall replies, and his explanation follows.

Hall `s avoids pitfalls of the 'analogia entis' by depending on what he calls "biblical faith"--a substantive amalgam of the saving work of God in Christ, reconciling the world (vis-à-vis the substantialism of the Greeks; cf. 2 Cor. 5:19) and the mystery of the personal identity of Christ (vis-à-vis "Jesus is God"). This discourse (10.4: p. 157 - 10.7: p. 164-65) favors a standard late-Barthian interpretation of the first four Ecumenical Synods, which is to say that Hall considers the human manifestation of God as the second Person of the Holy Trinity to be mysterious and unapproachable even by dialectics. Out of necessity, Hall must adopt a method other than dialectics if he is to know Christ.

An alternative for Hall would have been avoidance of cataphatic inquiry concerning Christ's Personal characteristics (e.g. equating the historical Jesus with the biblical canon alone), or at least to acknowledge that attributes of the Person of Christ define what we can know of His Person. In fact, Hall remains strangely silent about the implications for a North American Christology from methods--not anathemas-- employed at Chalcedon to know the Persons of each member of the Holy Trinity (cf. p. 398 ff.--this is the section in which Hall rightly summarizes Chalcedonian Christology, but fails to engage this Christology in making prophets of the mainline Protestant remnants in North America).

Either an apophatic approach or investigation of Christ's energies, contrary to the method Hall employs, would permit an ancient way to enrich Hall's excellent forays into Christian love as ground of communion in Christ come closest to resolving his own antinomies.

Left unresolved for Hall is whether the "skandalon" of Christ's Resurrection in the body was real or factual (cf. last paragraph, p. 388), but Hall resolves any doubt about the importance of the Resurrection narratives for the Church to apprehend and practice its mission as prophet of the Good News. I believe that how Hall considers the Resurrection of Christ is his theological method least like dialectics, and might be a risky step to bridge differences between ancient Athens and Jerusalem.

This book requires careful consideration, for Hall has earned a preeminent place among academic theologians in mainline Protestant denominations. There are many insights into the numeric decline in mainline North American Protestant denominations, which should cause readers concerned with ecclesiology to take note. However many insights they will discover in this volume lack a sustained polemic to link four important theological themes: Christology, Soteriology, Pneumatology and ecclesiology.

Such disjointed insights have drawn criticism from other reviewers. For this reason, I recommend that readers complete this second volume of the trilogy, and then embark immediately upon the third tome: 'Confessing the Faith: Christian Theology in a North American Context' (Augsburg Fortress, 1998: 548 pp.). The third volume provides better organization, less obtuse rhetoric, and five more years of maturation in thinking by this superb theologian. Hall has retired from the Theology faculty of McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, where he remains a revered Professor Emeritus.

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