The Theology of Jonathan Edwards

The Theology of Jonathan Edwards

The Theology of Jonathan Edwards

The Theology of Jonathan Edwards


Winner of the 2013 Christianity Today Book Award for Theology / Ethics

Scholars and laypersons alike regard Jonathan Edwards (1703-58) as North Americas greatest theologian. The Theology of Jonathan Edwards is the most comprehensive survey of his theology yet produced and the first study to make full use of the recently-completed seventy-three-volume online edition of the Works of Jonathan Edwards. The books forty-five chapters examine all major aspects of Edwardss thought and include in-depth discussions of the extensive secondary literature on Edwards as well as Edwardss own writings. Its opening chapters set out Edwardss historical and personal theological contexts. The next thirty chapters connect Edwardss theological loci in the temporally-ordered way in which he conceptualized the theological enterprise-beginning with the triune God in eternity with his angels to the history of redemption as an expression of Gods inner reality ad extra, and then back to God in eschatological glory.

The authors analyze such themes as aesthetics, metaphysics, typology, history of redemption, revival, and true virtue. They also take up such rarely-explored topics as Edwardss missiology, treatment of heaven and angels, sacramental thought, public theology, and views of non-Christian religions. Running throughout the volume are what the authors identify as five basic theological constituents: trinitarian communication, creaturely participation, necessitarian dispositionalism, divine priority, and harmonious constitutionalism. Later chapters trace his influence on and connections with later theologies and philosophies in America and Europe. The result is a multi-layered analysis that treats Edwards as a theologian for the twenty-first-century global Christian community, and a bridge between the Christian West and East, Protestantism and Catholicism, conservatism and liberalism, and charismatic and non-charismatic churches.


Let us begin with a musical parable. Imagine that you have the opportunity to attend a concert at the local symphony hall. Through the good graces of a friend—connected with the orchestra—you obtain some free tickets to the concert and proceed to invite half a dozen of your friends to come with you. On the way to the concert, you examine the tickets and discover that the seats are not adjacent. in fact they are widely scattered through the hall, with one in the front left, another in the front right, one in the back right corner, and two others in the first and second balconies. Arriving at the hall just before the concert, you and your friends scatter to your respective seats, agreeing to meet outside the hall at the end of the concert.

The music is everything that you had hoped it would be. There are guest soloists from Europe and from New York City. the conductor leads brilliantly. the instrumentalists play with polish and passion. a single violin commences the performance, lilting a melodious yet lonely air. Soon this violin carries a second along with it, and then a cello, a viola, and the entire string section then swells into the opening theme. Beginning as if from a great distance, the percussion section slowly enters in, followed by the horns and the woodwinds. As the first movement comes to a close, and as the second begins, you notice that the melody has shifted. It is no longer the strings but the woodwinds that dominate. the center of gravity has moved from stage left to stage right. Oboes and clarinets—sometimes together, sometimes separately—pick up and gradually unfold a new theme. Violins, along with violas, cellos, and basses, follow the woodwinds’ lead. the horns interject, punctuating the atmosphere and setting the woodwinds, though briefly, into the musical background. Listening attentively, you notice that a few of the violins have never ceased to play the original theme from the first movement. the composer has coordinated and harmonized the two themes to play simultaneously. As the woodwinds unfold their theme, the violins continue theirs. the woodwind theme reemerges during the third movement, when the violins once again seize the foreground.

As you meet up after the performance, the discussion begins. “What was your favorite part?” “That percussion section was amazing.” “Yes, I was following the . . .

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