Guide Douglas John Hall: Collected Readings

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  1. VIAF ID: 7535234 (Personal)
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  3. Douglas John Hall | Fortress Press
  4. Selected publications
Hayward 1994 lecture 1: Douglas John Hall

The deterioration of our natural environment is one of the major issues of our time. Douglas John Hall does not attempt to exonerate historical Christianity from that charge—the church must own part in this predicament. But, Hall argues, confession alone is not enough. The crisis forces us to rethink our whole understanding of the relationship between humanity and nature.

This new understanding must be based on the image of God in humanity—the imago dei. He argues that the image of God is not an endowment; rather, it is a quality that pertains to our relationship with God. We should think of imago as a verb, not a noun, he says. When he was 20 years old, Douglas John Hall hoped to study music professionally. In the end, this friendship altered the course of his life.


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This book traces the story of their year friendship and its impact upon their lives. In the process of telling his story, Hall reveals the importance of mentors in the lives of the young. Many Christians are confused or ambivalent about their role as stewards. Douglas John Hall recaptures the most basic meaning of the biblical metaphor of the steward and applies that meaning to our social context.

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Working from numerous angles, Hall explores the rich meaning and implications of stewardship. Douglas John Hall argues that Christianity first gained a foothold in the world because it proclaimed a message that awakened men and women to possibilities they had never entertained. Miller went on to establish the Bob Miller Book Room, which drew readers from far and wide to scour its formidable inventory of theological tomes. At the same time, the book also becomes a memoir of the SCM. Hall celebrates not only the mentorship that he received from Miller, but his mentorship from SCM as well.

Indeed, for Hall and many others, SCM held more influence in their academic training than the university itself.

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Hall captures how parachurch organizations like SCM hold the power to do great good by bringing together people and resources and inspiring their best efforts for church and society. Yet he also shows how such groups can fall into disarray and cause great hurt. Hall has formidable gifts in crafting lively, accessible theological commentary, but he is less accomplished in writing extended narratives, as this sort of work demands.

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His feelings for Miller and SCM are clearly affectionate and passionate, but the text is laden with details, names, and side stories that do little to advance the story he is telling and that hold meaning mainly for a Canadian audience. Nonetheless, for all its modesty, it is essential to those who want to learn more about Douglas John Hall. It is an elegiac volume, the work of a formidable intellect looking back on his personal formation with both fondness and some sadness.

Here Hall does for himself what he has long done for theology in general: he provides the context within which his influential thought gestated and was nurtured. For Douglas John Hall is first and foremost a theologian of contextuality. His insistence that all theology must be understood relative to the context in which it is formulated is his most distinctive contribution to Christian theology.

Douglas John Hall | Fortress Press

However, his analysis on all these topics is rooted in his work on contextuality. His magnum opus is his three-volume systematic theology subtitled Christian Theology in a North American Context.


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  8. Full disclosure: when I was on the staff at Fortress Press, I was an editor for that volume and several other Hall books. Hall is hardly unaware or inattentive to his social location; he is fully cognizant that he is a middle-class, white, Canadian male living in urban Montreal. But rather than privilege social location, thus putting the theologian first, Hall gives pride of place to the theology itself. In Thinking the Faith and throughout the trilogy, he examines how Christian theological ideas and traditions derived primarily from Northern Europe change when they are set within the context of the United States and Canada.

    So, his relative inattention to feminist thought, African-American religion, and liberation theology is neither oversight nor ignorance; he deliberately focuses on the admittedly mostly white-male heritage that has shaped Western Christian thought, translated into the North American context. For Hall, it is only such intentional examination that allows us to construct theologies that fit postmodern Christians in this era of disestablishment, diversity, and pluralism, yet remain true to the cross of Christ. Both books offer a common understanding of the cruciform nature of Christian existence, but one refracted through a changing context.

    Stewardship as Human Vocation. He argues that the image of God is not an endowment; rather, it is a quality that pertains to our relationship with God. We should think of imago as a verb, not a noun, he says. When he was 20 years old, Douglas John Hall hoped to study music professionally.


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    In the end, this friendship altered the course of his life. This book traces the story of their year friendship and its impact upon their lives.

    Selected publications

    In the process of telling his story, Hall reveals the importance of mentors in the lives of the young. Many Christians are confused or ambivalent about their role as stewards. Douglas John Hall recaptures the most basic meaning of the biblical metaphor of the steward and applies that meaning to our social context. Working from numerous angles, Hall explores the rich meaning and implications of stewardship. Douglas John Hall argues that Christianity first gained a foothold in the world because it proclaimed a message that awakened men and women to possibilities they had never entertained.

    Religion is in decline in the West, but Hall challenges Christians to stop devising ever more impressive promotional schemes, and to hear and proclaim the gospel instead. Paul, Minnesota. What really is Christianity? If all the religious packaging in which it is wrapped were removed, what would remain? In many quarters, Christianity is so narrowly identified with a few radical parts, cultural associations, and past ambitions that many see it as a threat to the planetary future.