The Essential Jonathan Edwards (book review)

Some have called Jonathan Edwards the greatest American theologian, and I think it would be very hard to dispute that. Not only was he a brilliant thinker, but Edwards was also a prolific speaker and writer. So Owen Strachan and Douglas Sweeney have taken on a monumental challenge in attempting to give us an accurate glimpse of this important man in their book The Essential Jonathan Edwards. 

The first part of the book is a short biography of Edwards’ life. The biography is told alternating between the biography of Strachan and Sweeney and the words Edwards recounted in his sermons and memoirs. 

The remainder of the book attempts to give the reader a sense of Edwards’ thoughts on topics such as the beauty of God’s creation, the joy of experiencing God’s pleasure, the essential nature of the Christian life, and the after-life. These topics are covered in the same way as the biographical portion—alternating between the actual words of Jonathan Edwards and the summation of Strachan and Sweeney. 

I found this book a bit frustrating. I would have preferred a more traditional biography of this great man or a collection of Edwards’ sermons verbatim. But the alternation between Edwards’ words and Strachan and Sweeney’s thoughts didn’t flow very well for me. 

My recommendation would be to either read George Marsden’s full or shortened biographies of Edwards, or simply read a collection of Edwards’ sermons. 

I am a Moody Press book reviewer.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Christ did not risk death. He embraced it. That is precisely why He came: not to be served but to serve and give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). … Christmas is for freedom. Freedom from the fear of death. Jesus took our nature in Bethlehem, to die our death in Jerusalem, that we might be fearless in our city. Yes, fearless. Because if the biggest threat to my joy is gone, then why should I fret over the little ones?” —John Piper

“The danger of all dangers would be to lose trust and confidence in the mercy of God. … To distrust Him would be a far more terrible thing than any physical evil which all the enemies of God put together could inflict on us, for without God’s permission neither the devils nor their human ministers could hinder us in the slightest degree.” —Francis Xavier

“Each instant of present labor is to be graciously repaid with a million ages of glory.” —J.W. Alexander

“If God did so much for us when enemies, what will He do, or rather, what will He not do, for us now that we are friends? … If Christ’s death did so much for us, what will not His life do?” —Horatius Bonar

“Ignorant men raise questions that wise men answered a thousand years ago.” —Goethe

[VIDEO] Tim Dilena shares some practical keys for a consistent prayer life.

“I would exhort those who have entertained an hope of their being true converts, and yet since their supposed conversion have left off the duty of secret prayer, and do ordinarily allow themselves in the omission of it, to throw away their hope. If you have left off calling upon God, it is time for you to leave off hoping and flattering yourselves with an imagination that you are the children of God.” —Jonathan Edwards

“For too many of us, Christian experience is episodic rather than continuous, with a few religious experiences interspersed throughout our lives, which are otherwise lived on our own terms. Such people can see little need or use for prayer.” —Ralph Lehman

Eric Metaxas helps us get ready for Religious Freedom Day on January 16.

[VIDEO] Not just at Christmas when you are receiving gifts, but all year long we should be people of appreciation. Check out John Maxwell’s short video—

Links & Quotes

link quote

“The spiritual life is life in Jesus Christ, our risen and reigning Savior and King. We are in Him and He is in us, and we are learning to desire Him and deny whatever keeps us from depending solely on Him for full and abundant life.” —T.M. Moore

“The Bible itself gives us one short prayer which is suitable for all who are struggling with the beliefs and doctrines. It is: ‘Lord I believe, help Thou my unbelief [Mark 9:24].’” —C.S. Lewis

“The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here…. [These] are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the ocean.” —Jonathan Edwards

Senator Ted Cruz calls on pastors to speak out about abortion: “Preaching from the pulpit biblical values on life and comparing those values, the teachings of Jesus, to this nationwide business of trafficking in the body parts of unborn children is a message that needs to be heard across this nation.”

When 200 retired US generals and admirals speak out on this Iranian deal, I would think our Senators should take notice.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“I try to live in such a way that if God sought one person on earth for a special assignment, He would select me.” —Jonathan Edwards

“If God has work for me to do, I cannot die.” —Henry Martyn

“There is, hidden or flaunted, a sword between the sexes till an entire marriage reconciles them. It is arrogance in us to call frankness, fairness, and chivalry ‘masculine’ when we see them in a woman; it is arrogance in them to describe a man’s sensitiveness or tact or tenderness as ‘feminine.’ But also what poor, warped fragments of humanity most mere men and mere women must be to make the implications of that arrogance plausible. Marriage heals this. Jointly the two become fully human. ‘In the image of God created He them.’ Thus, by a paradox, this carnival of sexuality leads us out beyond our sexes.” —C.S. Lewis

Pornography is NOT just something private. Porn affects everyone around you: My husband has chosen porn over me for 16 years.

Not only is pornography destructive to your personal relationships, but porn fuels the human sex trafficking industry. “Ultimately, the problem isn’t human trafficking—the problem is brokenness. As finite and flawed humans, we’re broken in just about every way. And it’s because of the brokenness in ourselves and our communities that exploitation can thrive.” Read more about the deeper problems behind human trafficking.

Ever been here: I Forgave, But It Doesn’t Feel Like It? Check out what this psychologist says about the healing that can come through forgiveness.

Keep an eye for these 7 subtle symptoms of pride.

 

Links & Quotes

link quote

Kevin DeYoung has an amazing post—40 Questions For Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags.

“The more people talk about their worldview, the more open and confident they are in making their case, the bolder they become. The bolder and more outspoken they become, the more a ‘spiral of silence’ begins to engulf those who believe otherwise. No one wants to be thought of as holding to a ‘minority position’ on anything, so, rather than speak up in the face of many who are doing so, most will remain silent. This is where the Christian community finds itself at this time, trapped in a spiral of silence before a blustering but empty secular and unbelieving worldview. So it is very important that believers in Jesus Christ make the best use of every opportunity to talk about what is good and pleasing to God.” —T.M. Moore

“Being infinite, God is inexhaustibly interesting. It is impossible, therefore, that God be boring. His continual demonstration of the most intelligent and interesting actions is volcanic. As the source of every good pleasure, He Himself pleases fully and finally. If that’s not how we experience Him, we are either dead or sleeping. It is therefore astonishing how little effort is put into knowing God. … Let us pray that our infinitely great God would open our eyes and hearts to see Him and seek to know Him more.” —John Piper

“The Lord doesn’t want our victory to be merely a one-time experience. His goal isn’t for us to emerge from a crisis, saying, ‘Thank God, I kept my faith through that.’ Yes, you may have made it through that one. But, like victorious Israel at the Red Sea, another trial will eventually come and it may be a different kind of test altogether. Living in God’s rest is a way of life. He wants us to be maintained by His peace and confidence in all our trials, knowing our High Priest is touched by the feelings of our infirmities.” —David Wilkerson

“Part of God’s fullness which He communicates is His happiness. This happiness consists in enjoying and rejoicing in Himself; so does also the creature’s happiness.” —Jonathan Edwards

Jeff Bonzelaar has a fascinating look at the difference between self-esteem and God-esteem.

Eric Metaxas tells an inspiring story about churches making a difference in their community.

[VIDEOS] Bobby Conway at the One Minute Apologist has two videos worth your time—

Links & Quotes

link quote

Bios has, to be sure, a certain shadowy or symbolic resemblance to Zoe: but only the sort of resemblance there is between a photo and a place, or a statue and a man. A man who changed from having Bios to having Zoe would have gone through as big a change as a statue which changed from being a carved stone to being a real man.” ―C.S. Lewis

“True faith embraces Christ in whatever ways the Scriptures hold Him out to poor sinners.” —Jonathan Edwards

Going through difficult times might be beneficial for Christians, says Trevin Wax in his post How Social Ostracism Could Increase Our Love.

“Yet while a race remembers and relives its sufferings and wrongs, it is often unwittingly transformed, often into the very image of its oppressor. Moreover, bitterness anchors the mind in the past and takes the heart with it. There is no future and no sense of the possible. There is only the incessant churning. Soon it becomes an excuse, a room into which the heart can run to find justification for failure and wrongs of its own. The end comes after the isolation and the rage have run their course. Bitterness is the second sting of the wound, and its fruit is death.” ―Booker T. Washington

“Progress is impossible if you only attempt to do the things you have always done.” —Mike Krzyzewski

[VIDEO] Is there evidence for a literal Adam and Eve? Does it matter?

Links & Quotes

link quote

Today is Thomas Jefferson’s birthday (born April 13, 1743). Inscribed on the Jefferson Memorial are these fitting words from the author of the Declaration of Independence: “I have sworn, upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

“God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love. Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it—made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.” —C.S. Lewis

“A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.” —Charles Spurgeon

A very interesting look at demographics in this post: What will world religions look like in 2050?

“But certainly that expression of seeking the Lord, is very commonly used to signify something more; it implies that God Himself is the great good desired and sought after; that the blessings pursued are God’s gracious presence, the blessed manifestations of Him, union and intercourse with Him; or, in short, God’s manifestations and communications of Himself by His Holy Spirit.” —Jonathan Edwards

%d bloggers like this: