The book defines two different theologies regarding the existence and nature of man. For Irenaeus, asceticism is man living life in the image of God. For Clement, man is in control of how he becomes godlike. Unique features of Irenaeus's theology include: the link between theology and anthropology, how the body is fashioned in the image of God, and man's dependence on God to attain true freedom. Clement, on the other hand, asserts that it is not the body but the intellect that is made in God's image, and man has free will to decide and live. Clement also analyzes the nature of perfection in newly baptized Christians. Clement explains his theology of asceticism in terms of ‘synergy’, emphasizing Christians obeying God's commandments and how their actions become righteous. Irenaeus gives focus on the economy of Scripture while Clement emphasizes how paideia results in man's salvation.
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