“Useful men are some of the greatest blessings of a people. To have many such is more for a people’s happiness than almost anything, unless it be God’s own gracious, spiritual presence amongst them; they are precious gifts of heaven.”
Certainly one of the most useful men in evangelical history was the man who preached those words, pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards. Commemorating his 300th birthday, general editors John Piper and Justin Taylor chose ten essays that highlight different aspects of Edwards’s life and legacy and show how his teachings are just as relevant today as they were three centuries ago.
Even within the church, many people know little more about Edwards than what is printed in American history textbooks—most often, excerpts from his best-known sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” They unjustly envision Edwards preaching only fire and brimstone to frightened listeners. But he knew and preached God’s heaven as much as Satan’s hell. He was a humble and joyful servant, striving to glorify God in his personal life and public ministry.
This book’s contributors investigate the character and teachings of the man who preached from a deep concern for the unsaved and a passionate desire for God. Studying the life and works of this dynamic Great Awakening figure will rouse slumbering Christians, prompting them to view the world through Edwards’s God-centered lens.
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“But strong piety will not excuse us from the study of theology, nor will a strong theology compensate for a lack of piety. Edwards models the fact that a real understanding of the truth of God will set the heart on fire, and that the heart set on fire by God will burn with a love for learning his truth.” (Page 128)
“The answer to this objection is that no one can feel brokenhearted for not treasuring God until he tastes the pleasure of having God as a treasure. In order to bring people to the sorrow of repentance, you must first bring them to see God as their delight.” (Page 30)
“Many Christians think stoicism is a good antidote to sensuality. It isn’t. It is hopelessly weak and ineffective. And the reason it fails is that the power of sin comes from its promise of pleasure and is meant to be defeated by the superior promise of pleasure in God, not by the power of the human will. Willpower religion, when it succeeds, gets glory for the will. It produces legalists, not lovers.” (Page 29)
“he has remarkably blessed the life and work of Jonathan Edwards with much enduring fruit.” (Page 128)
“And the conclusion he offers—on the basis of both biblical texts that speak of glory and of glorifying in these four distinct though connected ways and also analytical argument surrounding this exegesis—is that God’s internal and intrinsic glory consists of his knowledge (omniscience with wisdom) plus his holiness (spontaneous virtuous love, linked with hatred of sin) plus his joy (supreme endless happiness); and that his glory (wise, holy, happy love) flows out from him, like water from a fountain, in loving spontaneity (grace), first in creation and then in redemption, both of which are so set forth to us so as to prompt praise; and that in our responsive, Spirit-led glorifying of God, God glorifies and satisfies himself, achieving that which was his purpose from the start.” (Page 92)