Jonathan Edwards is rightly considered the greatest American born theologian and philosopher. His thought has had a massive impact not only on my own thinking but on the lives of many people. In his new book Edwards on the Christian Life Alive To The Beauty of God Dane Ortlund writes to help readers understand Edwards central passion—God’s beauty.
Edwards on the Christian Life is thirteen chapters. Each chapter takes a particular topic and shows how it relates to Edwards view of the Christian life. To this end Ortlund looks at Edwards on beauty, the new birth, love, joy, gentleness, Scripture, prayer, pilgrimage, obedience, Satan, the soul, Heaven and then offers some criticism.
In the early 2000’s I bought the completed works of Jonathan Edwards. At the time I was taking a class on the History of American philosophy at a secular school. The most interesting part of that particular class was our work through Edwards theology. The rest of that particular class looked at how America turned away from God and towards evolutionary theologian, along with Europe.
One of the most interesting aspects of this book was Ortlund discussion on how Edwards’s theology matured as he grew in knowledge of the Word. For example, Edwards became convinced that it was most effective to preach on the glory and excellencies of Christ work rather than preach fire and brimstone sermons. This is particular interesting since in recent days many people have neglected the wrath of God entirely even going so far as one pastor in the past decade to suggest that Jesus dying in our place and for our sin is cosmic child abuse. Edwards didn’t neglect preaching on hell, judgment and the wrath of God. As Edwards grew in his understanding of preaching and ministering to the people of God he came to understand that what people need isn’t sermons only on the wrath of God and judgment but also on the glorious work of the finished work of Christ. While the whole book is particular enjoyable, I enjoyed this discussion I’ve noted especially because it parallels much of my own thoughts on this topic.
All in all Edwards on the Christian Life is an excellent book. This book will be one I come back to time and time again on the life and thought of Edwards. Whether you are new to Edwards thought or have been engaged in the study of Edward’s thought for a long time—this book will help you. This book should be in the library of every serious Bible and church history student. This would also be a good book for professors to use in seminary classes. With that said, every Christian would benefit from reading Edwards on the Christian Life to help them understand the significance of Edwards and how he continues to influence the Church today.