Though sometimes presented as a condemning, hardboiled person, Edward's writings rather show that he was devoted to the cultivation of true faith in his sometimes fickle congregation. Jonathan Edwards on True Christianity lays out the spiritual context of Edward's day and how he urged his church members to leave lukewarm faith behind.
What is a true Christian? What is the church? Though these are fundamental questions they often go unanswered in our current evangelical context. Far too many pastors and thinkers celebrate the trappings of faith and the mere benefits of Christianity, ignoring the biblical testimony on true conversion that shouts from countless texts from Scripture.
This has fed an age-old problem: nominal Christianity. Though Edwards is sometimes presented as a scourge, a mean-hearted parson who lived to belt out thunderous damnations, a careful study of the historical record and of Edwards' writings shows that he was in fact a Christian man devoted to the cultivation of true and saving faith in a spiritually fickle people he tenaciously loved.
The problem of noncommittal Christianity did not end with Edwards. It not only survives but thrives in the current day. In studying it then, we are studying ourselves. We see that nominal Christianity, a considerable challenge today, has historic roots. We need not face this problem alone, growing more discouraged by the day, flailing as we try method after method to address the problem. Instead, we can find solace, instruction, and encouragement from the biblically saturated life and ministry of Jonathan Edwards.
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.