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Book: Learning Theology with the Church Fathers
Author: Christopher A. Hall
InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL pp.307

Excerpt from Jacket:

The early church fathers were great theologians, though they did not think of themselves as such. They were working pastors, involved in the daily life and leadership of their congregations. Yet they were wrestling with some of the great and formative questions of the Christian faith, such as the Trinity, the incarnation, the providence of God and the nature of the church. These beliefs were defined in the crucible of spiritual leadership, pastoral care and theological conflict, all set against the background of the great cultural movements and events of their day.

For the fathers, theology was a spiritual exercise woven into the texture of life.

What would it be like to sit under the preaching and instruction of these great men, to look over their shoulders as they thought and wrote, or to hear them debate theological issues?

Learning Theology with the Church Fathers replicates that experience for us. With the same insight and love of his subject that he brought to Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, Christopher Hall takes us into the world of patristic theology. Focusing on the great questions, we view these issues in their settings and find greater appreciation for the foundations and architecture of our Christian faith.

Excerpt from Book:

Wise Christians, Irenaeus advises, will always center their attention upon the Scripture but will rebuke the fallen tendency to focus on esoteric passages at the expense of the Scripture’s plain teaching on a vast array of issues, including creation and the nature of God. Here, indeed, were two key areas where Gnostic teachers had wandered far from the truth, precisely because of the skewed belief that the mysterious should be the grid by which to interpret the clear and unambiguous, rather than vise versa.

Irenaeus unreservedly affirms “that the Scriptures are indeed perfect: but that biblical writers have not attempted to answer every question that a curious mind might pose. In his words, “If we cannot discover explanation of all those things in Scripture which are made the subject of investigation . . . let us not on that account seek after any other God besides Him who really exists.” This is a key point for Irenaeus, for the Gnostics’ unbridled curiosity and unwillingness to live theologically and hermeneutically within the boundaries laid down by Scripture itself had led them into idolatry. They had actually created God in image through their unwillingness to submit to God’s silence on key questions they wanted answered.

Table of Contents:

1. Preparing to learn theology with the church fathers
2. Christ the Son, begotten and not made
3. The mystery and wonder of the Holy Trinity
4. Christ Divine and Human
5. On the Holy Spirit
6. Sin, grace and the human condition
7. God’s transcendent providence
8. God’s wise and loving providence
9. The sacred scriptures
10. One holy, apostolic church
11. The resurrection of the body and the life everlasting