Edwards’s Theology

Jonathan Edwards had been one of the first thinkers in America to read John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding in 1717. The question of man’s free will in light of Edwards’ own strong Calvinist belief in predestination was one that engaged the minister for all of his life. He was convinced that merely an intellectual grasp of the gospel was insufficient. Instead, for an individual to truly experience the Word of God, he must possess empirical knowledge that is, he must experience it firsthand. In addition, a sense of millennialism, of apocalypticism, and of pietism all informed Edwards’ thinking during the years of his schooling and early ministry. For Edwards, the will was not a separate mental or emotional faculty or ability; rather, the will was the expression of basic human motivations. Because all mankind inherited sinful natures in Adam’s fall, Edwards believed that human nature would never exhibit itself in a free will turned toward goodness and morality. He held that free will could only be turned toward God after God Himself undertook to change the individual’s heart as an act of divine grace. Edwards also believed that he and his contemporaries were living in the dawn of the millennium, at which time the kingdom of God would come on earth and require each person to account for himself at a day of judgment. Accordingly, Edwards believed that the ideal church, composed as a body of true believers redeemed by God’s grace, should strive toward perfection and thus be found righteous at the last judgment. As a result, he broke with the teachings of his grandfather, who had offered the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper to all socially upstanding members of the community. Edwards believed that the church had a responsibility to maintain stricter standards; he preached that only those who were regenerate sinners and who had professed their acceptance of God’s grace should be allowed full communicant membership in the church. Amazon.com: After Jonathan Edwards: The Courses of the New England … alltravel8Union alltravel8The God of Evolution: A Trinitarian Theology: Denis Edwards … alltravel8

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