The first centuries of Christianity are like a far country. But despite their foreignness, they hold a treasury of wisdom for living. Early Christians struggled and flourished in a culture that was in love with empire and military power, infatuated with sex and entertainment, tolerant of all gods but hostile to the One. And from this crucible of discipleship they extracted lessons of virtue, faithfulness, and joy in Christ.
Christopher Hall takes us to this distant time, where he interviews Christian leaders around the ancient Mediterranean world, inquiring how to live a good life as a Christ follower. The menu of topics wends its way through wealth and poverty, war and violence, marriage and sexuality, theater and the arena, as well as the harsh realities of persecution and martyrdom.
Gathering around Basil or Chrysostom or Augustine, we are instructed anew in the way of discipleship. And as they grapple with issues surprisingly resonant with our own, this cloud of ancient witnesses both surprises and challenges us in the life of faith.
"Chris Hall brings to life the early church's habitus in this engaging account of what it meant to be a Christian living not long after the time of Christ. But he goes even further in bringing twenty-first-century Christians into the story so that we too can live wisely today. This is a must-read for anyone looking to follow in the footsteps of the Fathers as they lead us to authentic and praiseworthy living in honor of Christ."
"Once again Chris Hall invites us to a banquet of guests from the early church, this time to learn from them how to live and love more faithfully as God's image-bearers. Through his reading and research, Chris has lived with these guests for many years and knows them so well that they come alive in this book, speaking to us words of wisdom about topics like killing, wealth, marriage, and entertainment. This is a feast that is easily digested but rich and nourishing. I will be coming back to this table for seconds and thirds."
"In our age in which passion is prized at the expense of real love, Chris Hall reminds us that there is another way—an ancient Christian way of godly wisdom—that leads to a well-ordered heart, a peace-filled mind, and a love-ruled life, rooted and established in living union with our Lord Jesus Christ. Take and read!"
"In a winsome style that makes the patristics accessible without ever domesticating them, Chris Hall takes readers deep into another engaging conversation with the church fathers. This time, he expertly highlights the immensely practical, deeply wise, and bracingly challenging things they have to say to us about the way we live our lives. The only thing that counts, we are reminded, is 'faith working through love' (Gal 5:6)—but that singular goal affects every area of our lives, from our finances to our relationships, politics, and daily regimens. Part manifesto and part training manual, Living Wisely with the Church Fathers compels us—and then teaches us—to do just what the title suggests."
"Hall brings out a dynamic synergism between the Hellenistic framework and radically different model of behavior as found in the Gospel. . . . Hall affords readers the possibility of being more mindful of the lives they are currently living."
Introduction: Living Wisely with the Church Fathers
1. “They Looked Like Flaming Angels”: Martyrdom
2. “A Solid Drop of Gold”: Wealth and Poverty
3. “The Misery of These Evils”: War and Military Service
4. “The Closest of Relationships”: Sex and the Dynamics of Desire
5. “One Hope, One Desire, One Way of Life”: Life as Male and Female, and the Goodness and Beauty of Marriage
6. “From the Cradle to the Grave”: Life and Death
7. “Let the Races Begin!”: Entertainment
8. Learning to Live a Good Life with God: The Well-Ordered Heart