After Jonathan Edwards: The Courses of the New England Theology

After Jonathan Edwards: The Courses of the New England Theology

After Jonathan Edwards: The Courses of the New England Theology

After Jonathan Edwards: The Courses of the New England Theology

Synopsis

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is widely regarded as one of the major thinkers in the Christian tradition and an important and influential figure in American theology.After Jonathan Edwardsis a collection of specially commissioned essays that track his intellectual legacies from the work of his immediate disciples that formed the New Divinity movement in colonial New England, to his impact upon European traditions and modern Asia. It is a unique interdisciplinary contribution to the reception of Edwardsian ideas, with scholars of Edwards being brought together with scholars of New England theology and early American history to produce a groundbreaking examination of the ways in which New England Theology flourished, how themes in Edwards's thought were taken up and changed by representatives of the school, and its lasting influence on the shape of American Christianity.

Excerpt

Oliver D. Crisp and Douglas A. Sweeney

In the course of a spirited and polemical defense of the New England Theology, its last great defender, Edwards Amasa Park, then Abbot Professor of Theology at Andover Theological Seminary, “begged leave” to explain the term “New England Theology” in these words:

It signifies the formal creed which a majority of the most eminent theo
logians in New England have explicitly or implicitly sanctioned, during
and since the time of [Jonathan] Edwards [Senior]. It denotes the spirit
and genius of the system openly avowed or logically involved in their
writings. It includes not the peculiarities in which Edwards differed,
as he is known to have differed, from the larger part of his most emi
nent followers, nor the peculiarities in which any one of his followers
differed, as some of them did, from the larger part of the others; but
it comprehends the principles, with their logical sequences, which the
greater number of our most celebrated divines have approved expressly
or by implication.

The New England Theology was a theological school of thought characterized by a number of ideas, a shared set of intellectual concerns, similar approaches to a range of central theological questions, and a common core of doctrine that is understood to be representative of this movement, even though not every individual theologian allied to this school would own every aspect of this conceptual deposit. in other words, the New England Theology connotes a particular theological tradition. Its advocates looked to Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) as fons et origo, the aboriginal intellect from which it sprang. But later developers of the New England Theology were, in some respects, as important as its founder for the ways in which they took and shaped particular ideas they found among Edwards’s literary remains, before passing them on to their intellectual progeny.

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