Jonathan Edwards Posts
August 24, 2010 by Gerald Hiestand
I’ve been regrettably slow in noting the (relatively) recent release of The Essential Edwards Collection (Moody Press, 2010), five vols., written by Doug Sweeney and Owen Strachan. Doug is a world-class Edwards scholar, and the Senior Theological Mentor of the SAET’s Second Fellowship. Owen Strachan is finishing up his PhD at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a Fellow in the SAET’s First Fellowship. I’ve not yet had a chance to view the collection, but Owen is bringing copies to the First Fellowship’s annual symposium in October. Looking forward to seeing Owen and the Essential Edwards Collection! See below for the publisher’s description:
“Johnathan Edwards was a colonial, philosophical preacher, and theologian. To many he stands as the preeminent theologian and thinker of the American tradition. This series of five books covers Edwards’ life and major writings opening an accessible window into the heart and mind of the pastor-theologian. They unearth the choicest treasures of Edwards’ writings and present them to lay people for discovery and personal transformation. The Essential Edwards Collection proves you do not need to be a scholar to enjoy and benefit from the writings and life from Johnathan Edwards.”
Check out the two videos below for more information on the collection.0 Comments
July 3, 2009 by Gerald Hiestand
Doug Sweeney (senior consultant for the SAET’s 2009 Symposium) is one of today’s leading Edwards scholars. I had the good fortune of taking his class on Edwards while at TEDS, so when I heard about his new book Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word (IVP Academic), I quickly snatched up a copy and read it. If you haven’t had much exposure to Edwards, this is a great book. It tops out at 200 pages and is pitched toward the non-specialist. It’s clear throughout that this is not merely an academic tome, and Sweeney is not afraid to drop the occasional devotional comment, challenging the reader to consider and apply some of the lessons Edwards’ legacy teaches us. Yet the footnotes are fairly extensive given the intended audience, and those looking for more detailed research direction on Edwards will find the book helpful as well.
The title captures well the thrust of Sweeney’s focus. Throughout the book Sweeney shows how Edwards’ deep commitment to the written Word influences every aspect of his life and ministry. Sweeney’s book is more bibliographic than theological, and focuses mostly on Edwards’ life and ministry. Yet Sweeney does a good job of introducing the reader to Edwards’ major theological themes. (In Chapter 5 Sweeney provides concise summaries of Edwards’ four major theological treatises—The Freedom of the Will, Original Sin, On True Virtue, and The End for Which God Created the World.)
While I’ve frequently pointed to Edwards as a consumate example of the pastor-theologian, I have always tried to be realistic about the disconnect between Edwards’ eighteenth-century New England and our contemporary context. Certainly the North American academy was not established as it is today, and thus theological discourse as a whole tended to be more ecclesial in nature, simply by default. Further, I supposed that much of Edwards thought emerged prior to the rise of higher criticism, allowing Edwards to focus more on ecclesial matters and not be sidetracked by apologetic concerns. Yet it appears my chronology is askew. Sweeney points out that Edwards was “fully apprised of recent trends in modern critical thought,” and that he “devoured” the writings of the higher critics (p. 95). The fact that Edwards engaged with the deconstructive academic theology of his day and yet devoted his theological writings to ecclesial matters demonstrates the extent to which Edwards’ theological project was primarily driven by ecclesial concerns.
Edwards was (and remains) the most influential theologian in North America, and it should not be lost on us that he was—first and formost—an ecclesial theologian. My favorite phrase in Sweeney’s book appropriately captures the Edwardsian vision of the pastor-theologian. Edwards was, Sweeney points out, a “priestly theologian” devoted to the oracles of God and their application in the lives of his people. I can think of no better label to describe the SAET’s vision of a pastor-theologian. If you’re a pastor with a desire to embody the Edwardsian vision, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Sweeney’s book.0 Comments