Sunday, June 14, 2009

Doug Sweeney's Seven Theses on Jonathan Edwards

This weekend I started reading the new book, Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word: A Model of Faith and Thought (IVP, 2009), by Doug Sweeney, Professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Director of the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding.

Just in reading the Preface and the Introduction: The Word in Edwards' World (both available free on the IVP site), I found myself resonating with Sam Storms' blurb, who wrote, "I love this book! . . . I highly recommend it!" (Read the full blurbs here.)

The book closes with seven theses for discussion. Sweeney writes,
it is naive to think that we should try to replicate his ministry. His world was different from ours. We face new challenges today. The question is not how we might clone him. Rather, the question is how to live in our own, twenty-first-century world, loving the people whom we serve, but using insights and examples gleaned from Edwards' life and ministry to enhance our Christian faith and fortify our gospel witness. (p. 197)
Here are the seven theses (the book contains an explanation of each):
  1. Edwards shows us the importance of working to help people gain a vivid sense, an urgent impression, of God's activity in our world.
  2. Edwards shows us that true religion is primarily a matter of holy affections.
  3. Edwards shows us the advantages of keeping an eschatological perspective on our lives.
  4. Edwards shows us how God uses those who lose their lives for Christ.
  5. Edwards shows us that theology can and should be done primarily in the church, by pastors, for the sake of the people of God.
  6. Edwards shows us that even the strongest Christians need support from others.
  7. Edwards shows us the necessity of remaining in God's Word.