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Douglas John Hall

Collected Readings

By Douglas John Hall and edited by David B. Lott

Publication Year: 2013

Douglas John Hall’s popular and acclaimed writings have inspired and challenged readers four over decades making him of the most widely known theologians in North America. This collection of readings from Douglas John Hall’s essential theological works has been carefully chosen to highlight the author’s most important work. Hall's work takes the measure of Christian belief and doctrine explicitly in light of North American cultural and historical experience. Hall's theological insights challenge churches to embrace change and develop genuine community, uncompromised theology, and honest engagement with the larger culture. To a failed culture and a struggling church, Hall shows the radical implications of a theology of the cross for the shape and practice of church, preaching, ministry, ethics, and eschatology.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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A Friendship of Shared Memories

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pp. vii-viii

A few years ago Douglas John Hall returned to Union Theological Seminary, New York, where he had earned a doctorate in 1963. Alone he wandered through the impressive stone buildings. He visited the library, whose worldrenowned collection endures; the chapel, whose renovation in the late 1970s did not eliminate totally its sacred space; and the refectory, whose elegant...

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pp. 1-10

“Gospel for the here and now”—these five words could well sum up the writing and teaching career of Douglas John Hall, which has spanned nearly five decades. In twenty-five books and countless essays, he has repeatedly courted the risk of “playing the fool” in order to press the church and Christians to a more disciplined, intellectually engaged faith that takes seriously the gospel...

Part I. Thinking and Knowing: Theology as Contextual Practice

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pp. 11-12

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1. Invitation to Theology

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pp. 13-22

Hall opens Thinking the Faith, the first volume in his systematic trilogy, with what he calls “A Summons to Contextualization,” and moves from there to ponder “The Meaning of Contextuality in Christian Thought” and how we might discern our current context. Here, however, leading with Hall’s argument for the necessity of theological thought in the first place will help us...

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2. Theology and Faith

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pp. 23-32

In part 1 of Thinking the Faith, Hall describes “The Disciple Community” by way of explaining the nature of contextuality and the necessity of disciplined theological thought to the church, that is, the disciple community. As he notes, “Discipleship is disciplined thought about the faith.” Speaking more specifically of theology as confessional, he writes, “Christian theology is an undertaking...

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3. Defining Contextuality

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pp. 33-52

Moving backwards in Thinking the Faith, we return to near the beginning of the book, where Hall makes the statement that drives this entire project: “Christian theology is contextual by definition.” It is interesting to note here Hall’s appeal to two of his greatest influences: Karl Barth and Paul Tillich. Hall has said that his awakening to his own context prompted in him “second...

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4. The Sisyphus Syndrome

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pp. 53-64

In Professing the Faith, the second volume of his trilogy on Christian theology in a North American context, Hall uses his contextual approach to examine three major doctrinal areas: the doctrine of God, creaturely being, and Jesus the Christ, Savior. In each case, he first examines the doctrine through the lens of historical theology, which he describes as “the articulation of the belief of the...

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5. Modes of Knowing

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pp. 65-84

In the final chapter of Thinking of Faith, Hall turns to the topic of epistemology, which, quoting Paul Tillich, he describes as “the ‘knowledge’ of knowing” (1989:71).1 Here the reader may hearken back to chapter 2 of this present volume, on “Theology and Faith,” as Hall here attempts to describe “the different ways in which ‘knowing’ applies both to life and Christian...

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6. . . . But How?

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pp. 85-100

In 1998, Hall produced what is probably the most unusual and conceptual book in his oeuvre, Why Christian? For Those on the Edge of Faith. To quote Hall, “The book takes the form of dialogues between an aging professor of theology (myself!) and a university undergraduate. The dialogues at the beginning of each chapter pose the question to which the rest of the chapter—the little...

Part II. The Crucified God and the Suffering Christ: Theology in the Context of the Cross

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pp. 101-102

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7. Theology and Doctrinal Traditions

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pp. 103-112

As noted above in the introduction to chapter 2, “Theology and Faith,” in part 2 of Thinking the Faith, Hall examines the discipline of theology, and how that relates to seven elements: faith, the Bible, doctrinal traditions, experience, prayer, the church, and the world. Here, by way of looking at specific theological topics with an eye toward contextuality, we return to that section...

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8. Theology of the Cross as Contextual Theology

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pp. 113-128

In 2003, Hall published The Cross in Our Context: Jesus and the Suffering World, which originated in a series of ten lectures at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. As he writes in the book’s introduction, “I have planned this brief volume to address . . . the traditional concerns of Christian theological reflection, in each case asking how that particular aspect of doctrine is affected...

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9. Reasons for the Ideological Triumph of the Positive

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pp. 129-138

In part 1 of Professing the Faith, “Theology: The Christian Doctrine of God,” Hall explores Christian thought regarding the Deity in historical, critical, and constructive perspectives (see chapter 4 above, “The Sisyphus Syndrome,” for an explanation of these categories). In the critical section (“Questioning the Father Almighty”), from which this excerpt is taken, Hall asks the reader...

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10. The Crucified God

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pp. 139-152

Contra the previous chapter, which shows how the theology of glory has infiltrated our understandings of God, and kept the church in thrall to Christendom, this excerpt from The Cross in Our Context examines at length how it is that the suffering God may be recognized in the crucified Christ. In so doing, Hall also shows how the theology of the cross presupposes trinitarian...

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11. Redemption: Conquest from Within

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pp. 153-178

Hall’s first major book in the United States, Lighten Our Darkness: Towards an Indigenous Theology of the Cross (1976), is also his most concentrated consideration of what the theologia crucis means in the North American context. Ten years later, God and Human Suffering: An Exercise in the Theology of the Cross, took that theological motif and set it in relation to the...

Part III. Ecclesiology and Ethics: Theology in the Context of Disestablishment

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pp. 179-180

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12. The Church and the Cross

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pp. 181-198

This chapter serves as a transition from part 2, which focused on specific theological topics and doctrines, to this final part of the book, which looks more closely at issues of contemporary ecclesiology and ethics, particularly relative to the disestablishment of the churches and the Christian vocation of stewardship. Hall here, in an excerpt from The Cross in Our Context, considers how...

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13. The True Church

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pp. 199-216

Confessing the Faith, the final volume in Hall’s trilogy on Christian theology in a North American context, is concerned with “the doctrine of the church, or ecclesiology; the nature of the church’s calling as a confessing body, or missiology; and the character of hope to which the being and work of the church points, or eschatology” (1996:22). Following somewhat the pattern of...

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14. The Object of Disestablishment: Mission and Service

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pp. 217-226

A primary message to the churches in much of Hall’s work from the beginning has been: “Disestablish yourselves!” Hall is not alone in expressing this imperative, of course, but few have gone the extra step of answering the essential question, Why? To what end? Or, as he writes, “What then is the mission of a church that can no longer count on its favored status in Western...

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15. The Ethic of Resistance and the Ethic of Responsibility

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pp. 227-236

Hall asserts, following his early theological influence, Karl Barth, that Christian theology and Christian ethics are inseparable. The reason for this is at least twofold: contextual and missional. First, as he writes in Thinking the Faith, “The split between theology and ethics is not only a false one, but one which has contributed much to the reputation for timelessness earned by a doctrine-centered...

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16. Stewards of the Mysteries of God

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pp. 237-252

Stewardship, the third of Hall’s major concerns, was the focus of many of his books in the 1980s, most of which were published in partnership with the National Council of Churches in New York. Hall, drawing on the biblical images of the steward, worked in these books to retrieve the term from its distorted understanding and practice in the church in the thrall of Christendom. In...


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pp. 253-254

Index of Names and Subjects

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pp. 255-262

Index of Biblical References

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pp. 263-264

Back Cover

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p. 274-274

E-ISBN-13: 9781451465167
E-ISBN-10: 1451465165
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800699864
Print-ISBN-10: 0800699866

Page Count: 688
Publication Year: 2013