Monday, December 18, 2006

Jonathan Edwards and Slavery

One of the more thorny issues of Edwards' life and legacy has to do with his position on slavery. It has been long known that Edwards himself owned slaves. More recently, Edwards' defense of slave ownership was judiciously assessed in an excellent article by Ken Minkema in the Massachusetts Historical Review. (Click here to read that article.)

However, it is interesting to note that though Edwards was himself a slaveowner, his direct intellectual descendants including his own son JE Jr. were among the first New England abolitionists. Minkema and Stout wrote a companion piece to the first slavery article in the Journal of American History. (Click here to read that article.)

In recent months, there have emerged a couple of further comments on Edwards and slavery from Sweeney & Guelzo, Chamberlain, Marsden, and Minkema.

It seems to me that this issue was blown wide open by Minkema's two articles listed above, and is ripe for further analysis, especially given that there are estimated to be more slaves in the world today than at any other time in history.


Anonymous Nick said...

Sherard Burns (an African-American pastor) has a great essay, entitled "Why Trust the Theology of a Slave Owner?", in John Piper's edited book, "A God-Entranced Vision of All Things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards"

6:34 am  
Blogger caleb maskell said...

You can find the book for free download here:

The article in question is in Part Two, "Lessons from Edwards' Life and Thought."

3:06 pm  
Blogger Kristie said...

Seeing the culture Edwards lived in and his "blind spots" makes me wonder what are the cultural blinders that American Evangelicals have today....many I suspect. You mentioned one: the fact that human trafficking is greater now than it was then. And what is being done about it? I wonder also about the issue of immigration in our country. On many issues I think Evanglicals such as myself, have rationalized such issues in regards to our own personal lives just as Edwards did.

Thanks for link to Minkema's article.

2:54 am  
Anonymous Mike Larsen said...

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12:52 am  

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