The strongest point of Learning Theology with the Church Fathers is the authors clear knowledge of Ante-Nicene writings. The depth of research is evident in Hall’s writing. Many of the footnotes in the text are from a variety of writing by the church fathers. Hall also takes great care at the outset of the book to detail what exactly heresy is. Hall cites and agrees with Tertullian that heresy is identified as a deviation from apostolic teaching and doctrine. In addition, Hall points to Athanasius’ comments that heterodoxy is usually associated with that teachers unique doctrine. Christians who were Orthodox generally chose to link themselves only to Christ.
The strongest portion of Learning with the Church Fathers is chapter six entitled “Sin, Grace, and the Human Condition”. Hall does not only discuss the conflict between Augustine and Pelagius but starts the discussion with Irenaeus. Hall asserts that statements of Irenaeus which seem to sound like Pelagius must be considered outside of the context of the Pelagian Controversy. The ideas that came to a head during the time of Augustine had not yet come and several generations of church fathers had come and gone between the two church fathers.
Irenaeus speaks of the goodness of humanity in the context of refuting Gnosticism which asserted that the material creatio...
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...ter place the conflicts throughout the course of church history. For example, chapter six discusses primarily theological issues of the early fifth century but the 11th and final chapter of the book very heavily discusses Gnosticism which was primarily a theological issue of the second and third centuries.
In conclusion, Learning Theology with the Church Fathers is an excellent book for understanding the teaching of the church fathers on issues that were of importance to the development of the church. The book touches on most points of the Apostles and Nicene Creeds and gives the reader an excellent understanding of how the theological understanding of those two creeds came into being.
Christopher A. Hall, Learning Theology with the Church Fathers (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2002), Kindle Electronic Edition: Chapter 1, Location 249-250
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