Saturday, June 30, 2007

Filial Obedience

'Christ shed his blood in the exercise of a filial obedience to his heavenly Father. He did it in the exercise of a holy submission and entire resignation to the will of God ...'

'Christ's sacrifice an Inducement to Ministers' in Works, 25, 671.

continue reading

Friday, June 29, 2007

Cambridge Companion Again

Harry Stout's article in the Cambridge Companion to Jonathan Edwards examines the relationship between history and revival in Edwards' theology. It is a good summary article, it introduces the material well and it outlines some of the thinking that Stout develops at more length in his introduction to Works, 22. Stout traces Edwards tripartite discussion of history - the history of redemption on earth and the related history of heaven and hell. Stout notes the frequent mention of angels in the story (when will someone write a work on Edwards and angels? PhD thesis someone?) on p.131.

Stout concludes:

'By 1745 the evangelical campaign for the trans-Atlantic world became derailed in the face of renewed war with France, and Edwards would become derailed by his own congregation who dismissed him with rancor on both sides. Edwards would not live to see another awakening, and he went to his grave disappointed and a failure.' (141)

continue reading

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Peter Beck on Edwards on Sin

New Article on Edwards: July 2007.

'The fall of man and the failure of Jonathan Edwards.' By: Beck, Peter. Evangelical Quarterly, Jul 2007, Vol. 79 Issue 3, p209-225,

Looking particularly at the detail of Edwards' explanation of Adam's fall and the use of the idea of self-love. Here is the plot spoiler:

'In light of Edwards' profound work, Freedom of the Will, this theological dilemma becomes all the more complex.'

BTW the academic convention for citing Edwards' "Miscellanies" is "Miscellanies" No. ## etc. There is no academic convention for citing a single "Miscellany". The term "Miscellanies" (with the "") is a shorthand adopted by the Yale Edition supported by JE who referred to "Miscell." and Jonathan Edwards Jr. who referred to the "Miscellanies." Schafer writes (Works, 13, 3, n3.) '[t]he word "Miscellanies" is not a plural but a collective noun, and "Miscellany" is not a singular but is identical in meaning with "Miscellanies".

Following Prof Schafer's wisdom is historically informed and honors a giant of scholarship on Edwards. Not many of us would be reading the "Miscellanies" without him! The manuscripts of the "Miscellanies" are amongst the most incredible in the whole collection, and it is a testimony to the extreme labor and dedication of a few people that we have the "Miscellanies", the "Blank Bible" and dozens of other manuscripts available in both letterpress and online editions.

continue reading

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Divine Accommodation

I'm reading through Jon Balserak's (insanely expensive) Divinity Compromised: A Study of Divine Accommodation in the Thought of John Calvin (Springer: 2006) for a book review. It is striking how frequently Calvin turns to accommodation in his exposition of Scripture. This is the best extract from Edwards that I could find in which he discusses accommodation in the context of theological mystery:

'I rather wonder that the Word of God contains no more mysteries in it; and I believe 'tis because God is tender of us, and considers the weakness of our sight, and reveals only such things as he sees that man, though so weak a creature, if of an humble and an honest mind, can well enough bear. Such a kind of tenderness we see in Christ towards his disciples, who had many things to say, but forbore, because they could not bear 'em yet. And though God don't depart from truth to accommodate his revelation to our manner of thinking; yet I believe he accommodates himself to our way of understanding in his manner of expressing and representing things, as we are wont to do when we are teaching little children.'

"Miscellanies" No. 583

continue reading

Monday, June 25, 2007

Colin Gunton Memorial Prize

Surely the set topic - the Spirit in the church - lends itself to an Edwardsian theme?

See here.

The Society for the Study of Theology and the International Journal of Systematic Theology offer an annual essay prize in memory of Colin Gunton. The prize for 2006 has been awarded to Dennis Hou, of Thousand Oaks, California, whose winning paper entitled ‘The infinity of God in the biblical theology of Denys the Areopagite’ will be published in a forthcoming issue. The SST and IJST would like to offer their congratulations to the winner, and their thanks to all those who entered the competition.

The topic for the 2007 prize is:

The Spirit in the Church

The winning essay will be awarded a prize of £200 and will be published in IJST; other essays may also be considered for publication, subject to the agreement of their authors.

Essays should be between 7,000 and 9,000 words long, including notes; they should be written in English, and should follow the style guidelines laid out in the ‘Notes to Contributors’ in IJST.

They should not have been published before, or be under consideration for publication elsewhere. Authors should submit FOUR typed and stapled copies of the essay, and ONE copy of an abstract of not more than 100 words. The essay's title should appear on the abstract and all copies of the essay, but the name of the author should only appear on a separate cover sheet, together with the title of the essay. Essays will not be returned; copies may be kept in the SST archive. As the prize is intended to celebrate Colin Gunton's contribution to constructive Christian theology, essays should work within that broad area; they will be judged on academic merit.

The closing date for essays to be received is 1 November 2007. The judges (two nominated by IJST; two by SST) will make their final decision in January 2008, and all authors will be informed of the result shortly thereafter. The winner will be invited to the SST annual conference in 2008, where a presentation of the prize will be made at the conference reception.

The Society may be able to provide some assistance with the costs of attending the conference.
Essays should be submitted to:

Dr Mike HigtonSociety for the Study of TheologyDepartment of TheologyUniversity of ExeterQueen's BuildingQueen's DriveExeter EX4 4QHUnited Kingdom

continue reading

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

After Edwards

'The legacy of Jonathan Edwards was both profound and widespread. First there were the members of his family - his progeny was numerous. Then there were his disciples. Many Americans had in truth been awakened by the Great Awakening, and a steady stream had come to study at Yale under Jonathan Edwards Jr., and Timothy Dwight, grandson of Jonathan Edwards. His disciples were numerous as well. Prominent among them were Samuel Hopkins, Nathaniel Emmons, and Edwards Bellamy.'

Hughes Oliphant Old, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church Volume Six: The Modern Age (Eerdmans, 2007), 139.

continue reading

Saturday, June 16, 2007

On preaching

A good way to begin reading Edwards is to start with his sermons. I would recommend this (which is very cheap) and this as initial reading. Of course, we have a brief introduction to the sermons on our website here and we have many of the sermons free online here. Prof Wilson H. Kimnack wrote the main introduction to the sermons in the Yale edition (Volume 10) and also wrote the introduction to volume 25. He also has an essay on the sermons in The Princeton Companion to Jonathan Edwards entitled 'The Sermons: Concept and Execution.'

In order to get an overview of the sermon corpus I highly commend beginning with Kimnach's essay in The Cambridge Companion to Jonathan Edwards called 'Edwards the preacher.' It is the distillation of many years labors in the manuscripts and texts of Edwards' sermons and it is worth its weight in gold. WK offers an historical survey covering Edwards' life and develops some of the central changes and patterns in his preaching. There are many excellent essays in this volume, but it is worth the money to read this one.

Kimnach begins by noting that Edwards began his sermon training listening to his own father in the pulpit and the 'sermon of Edwards's youth was essentially the seventeenth-century Puritan sermon, as busy in its formal structure as the music of Johan Sebastian Bach. His father's baroque sermons could well have over fifty numbered heads (not to mention subheads), though the language was indeed plain (104).'

It is important to know one thing when reading the sermons - the highpoint of Edwards' homiletical endeavor, contrary to what one might naturally assume, was not the end of his life. Rather, the 'second phase of Edwards's preaching career, 1729-42, during which he began to employ the sermon primarily as an instrument of awakening and pastoral leadership, is the period of his most sustained and intensive homiletical effort (110) ... The publication of Edwards's five discourses in 1738 marked the high point of his pastoral preaching, and the sermons of the 1730s, taken as a whole, have a technical mastery and consistency of finish unmatched elsewhere in his career (115).'

This should help you know which years to look at first if you are reading the sermons here.

continue reading

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Communion in the Spirit

I read this book when it was a doctoral thesis, but I managed to miss it coming out a few months ago in paperback. I've ordered it and I'm keen to know how significantly Dr Caldwell has developed the argument of the thesis.
I blogged this book previously here.

The book blurb:

This study explores the central connection Edwards drew between his doctrines of religious experience and the Trinity: the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

Edwards envisioned the Spirit's inter-Trinitarian work as the affectionate bond of union between the Father and the Son, a work which, he argued, is reduplicated in a finite way in the work of redemption. Salvation is ultimately all about being drawn in love into the Trinitarian life of the Godhead.

Dr Caldwell takes us through the major regions of Edwards' theology - his Trinitarianism, his doctrine of the end for which God created the world, his Christology, and his doctrines of justification, sanctification and glorification - to demonstrate the centrality of the Holy Spirit throughout his theology.

'a fine piece of work', Douglas Sweeney

continue reading