The Substance of Hope

Since 1991, Douglas John Hall has published three large volumes (Thinking the Faith, Professing the Faith, and Confessing the Faith--all Augsburg Fortess Publishers) designed to provide an essentially systematic theological statement that reflects the North American context. Hall addresses the most central theological concerns with an elegant and unusually lucid writing style, making his work available to a far larger audience than most professional theologians. He believes that expanding theological dialogue is critical for the well-being of the church and society.

A great responsibility of theology in North America, writes Hall, "is to help provide a people indoctrinated with the modern mythology of light with a reference for the honest exploration of its actual darkness." The American Dream and the dream of Western technocracy, with their blind commitment to optimism, are unraveling. In many quarters of the church and society, there is steadfast resistance to a recognition of this reality.

What is needed, argues Hall, is a gospel that has the substance and courage to say that real hope can start only where illusion ends. Real life does not preclude the taste of suffering and death. A "theology of the cross" is evident throughout the three volumes.

"IF OUR FAITH IS something to be understood and not merely felt or lived, what is the character of this quest for understanding and how does it relate to other aspects of our life as Christians?" In such a manner, Hall lifts up the focus of his first volume.

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 1997
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