Monday, 5 June 2006

For the love of God (9): Why I love Jonathan Edwards

A guest-post by T. B. Vick

Jonathan Edwards has been called the greatest American thinker. Having read and re-read much of what Edwards has written, I would agree with this sentiment. In fact, Edwards was one of the first theologians I encountered in my own theological studies. After studying both theology and philosophy, I have often thought that the best theologians are those who have immersed themselves in philosophy. And Edwards was no exception.

Edwards had, I think, a nice balance between theology and philosophy, and he knew how they worked together. His work on human nature and human will (especially in The Freedom of the Will) still offers perhaps one of the best explanations ever produced on the fallen human condition. In addition to his theological work, Edwards was a Congregational pastor, and his sermons were published and are still being read today. Among these is, of course, the famous (but often misunderstood or misrepresented) sermon titled Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

But aside from all this, Edwards was also a poet, a musician, a lover of nature and the outdoors, the last of the great puritans, and a friend and counselor to many in his day, even when he himself was suffering from great bouts of depression. While I do not necessarily agree with everything Edwards wrote, I still think he is a force to be reckoned with. In my opinion he is one of the most underappreciated theologians in Christian history—but time will tell how much he really contributed to the theological landscape. Perhaps eventually we will catch up to the thinking of Jonathan Edwards.

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