The question of the afterlife is, for many today, one of preference. Christians trained to evangelize unsaved people with the query, "If you were to die today, do you know where you would go - heaven or hell?" have grown befuddled when met with the response, "I don't believe in heaven or hell." Something in our culture has changed. The ground has shifted beneath our feet. We did not feel it. But change has come, just the same.
We must reacquaint modern Christians with the eschatologically driven preaching and teaching of Edwards. This word "eschatological" may trip some readers up at first encounter, but it refers simply to "last things", things of eternity and ultimate significance. We exhume Edwards' scripturally fired material on the reality of the afterlife, the terror of hell, the glories of heaven, and the shape life must take in light of these realities.
If we accept the Word as our authority, and if we will allow Edwards to serve as our faithful and imaginative guide, we will find that God is alive. He is Lord of heaven and earth, the sovereign ruler of all Creation. He is not small. He can be found. He is not silent on the afterlife, and His testimony calls for our attention, our concern, and our whole-hearted worship and trust.
Easily accessible and readable, you do not need to be a scholar to enjoy these insights about Jonathan Edwards and his writings.
OWEN STRACHAN is the Managing Director of the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a Ph.D. student in Historical Theology at TEDS. He has served as a teaching assistant and has worked for the White House and the presidents of Bowdoin College and Southern Seminary. Having worked at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Strachan is preparing to serve as an urban pastor-theologian. He lives on Chicago's North Shore with his wife, Bethany, and their daughter. Strachan enjoys interacting with theology and culture on his blog, www.owenstrachan.com.
DOUGLAS A. SWEENEY is Professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought and Director of the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He formerly served as a lecturer at Yale University, as an adjunct professor as Aquinas College, and as a visiting professor at both Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary. Sweeney is the author of a number of books and articles about religious history and the American theologian, Jonathan Edwards. He resides with his wife, Wilma, and their son in Lindenhurst, Illinois.