I was fishing with a couple of Southern boys my age (Gee, Danny-boy, Skitter and Snake), down in Fitzgerald, Georgia when the topic of reading came up. I asked Danny-boy if he reads much. "Na, I don't read no more", he said. "I started readin' once, but it confused me." "I got my life to were its runnin' good enough and if I start readin' those books I just might have to change it".
Douglas Hall, and his book, Confessing the Church, will press you to change, or at the least reevaluate your beliefs. This is a powerful book. It was Roger Bacon who said "Some books are to be tasted, others swallowed and a few are to be chewed and digested". Hall's book is slow reading, for it requires reflection. Confessing the Faith must be chewed slowly, and even then I am not sure if most will digest.
Hall is on the front edge of both Christology and Ecclesiology. Douglas Hall sees the Church as a witness; proclaiming and testifying to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Words alone are not enough to Hall, the people of God, the Church must be found acting or "doing" their confession that Jesus is the Christ. For Hall a Church that does not confess Christ to the world in word and deed is not being faithful to its nature and calling. Christ is the door through which we can achieve a relationship with the living God, each other and the world we live in. He believes that the Church must not only confess Christ to the world but must do so in such a way that it actually makes a difference - standing and saying what must be said regardless of the cost. Hall calls us to confess contextually Christ; ie. to speak about Christ and his presence and power where it needs to be spoken and in such a way that it confronts the evil that propagates and often prevails in our world.
Confessing the faith to Hall is being Christ to this world today.
Douglas John Hall, has given to us brilliant insight on how we as "the people of God" need to profess (actualize) our faith. We are called to be disengaged from the values of this world system to such a degree that the world recognizes us as different - strange. Thus, those who are strangers to God's love and presence, will take notice of our confession and actions. They will see that our faith points to God's character. A character defined by the person Jesus of Nazareth. We are the people of the Christ, and that makes us different. We are not afraid to confront the evil in this world and we call out for righteousness and justice for all.
Where Hall falls short is in two areas. First, he fails to illuminate the character of Christ, the very identity he calls the Church to reflect. And secondly, he calls us to confront the evils and wrongs of this world without expanding on what these evils and wrongs are. Overall, this has been one of the most challenging and thought provoking books I have read.