Thursday, August 04, 2005

before we get to part IV...

before i write the fourth installment of my incessant babbling, i wanted to encourage you to go to this link.

it is a talk john piper gave in 1988 on jonathan edwards at a pastors conference. i am taking a class this fall entitled "jonathan edwards" where we will be studying his life and writings. it is a shame that more people aren't familiar with this giant in american history. if you think you know who he is because you have read "sinner's in the hands of an angry god", then you know only an out of context caricature. do yourself a favor and read this article about this brilliant man. and perhaps you too, will long for a man of his stature to rise up again in our country.

some excerpts:

Most of us don't know the real Jonathan Edwards. We all remember the high
school English classes or American History classes. The text books had a little
section on "The Puritans" or on "The Great Awakening." And what did we read?
Well, my oldest son is in the 9th grade now and his American History text book
has one paragraph on the Great Awakening, which begins with the sentence that
goes something like this: "The Great Awakening was a brief period of intense
religious feeling in the 1730's and '40's which caused many churches to
And for many text books, Edwards is no more than a gloomy troubler of
the churches in those days of Awakening fervor. So what we get as a sample of
latter-day Puritanism is an excerpt from his sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an
Angry God." Perhaps one like this,

The God that holds you over the pit of
hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire,
abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire;
he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is
of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousands times
more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in

And so the kids are given the impression that Edwards was a gloomy, sullen,
morose, perhaps pathological misanthrope who fell into grotesque religious
speech the way some people fall into obscenity

But no one has asked us to take Edwards seriously, and so most of us don't
know him.
Most of us don't know that he knew his heaven even better than his
hell, and that his vision of glory was just as appealing as his vision of
judgment was repulsive.
Most of us don't know that he is considered now by
secular and evangelical historians alike to be the greatest Protestant thinker
America has ever produced. Scarcely has anything more insightful been written on
the problem of God's sovereignty and man's accountability than his book,
Freedom of the Will.
Most of us don't know that he was not only God's
kindling for the Great Awakening, but also its most penetrating analyst and
critic. His book called the Religious Affections lays bare the soul with such
relentless care and Biblical honesty that, two hundred years later, it still
breaks the heart of the sensitive reader.
Most of us don't know that Edwards
was driven by a great longing to see the missionary task of the church
completed. Who knows whether Edwards has been more influential in his
theological efforts on the freedom of the will and the nature of true virtue and
original sin and the history of redemption, or whether he has been more
influential because of his great missionary zeal and his writing the Life of
David Brainerd.
Does any of us know what an incredible thing it is that this
man, who was a small-town pastor for 23 years in a church of 600 people, a
missionary to Indians for 7 years, who reared 11 faithful children, who worked
without the help of electric light, or word-processors or quick correspondence,
or even sufficient paper to write on, who lived only until he was 54, and who
died with a library of 300 books – that this man led one of the greatest
awakenings of modern times, wrote theological books that have ministered for 200
years and did more for the modern missionary movement than anyone of his

do yourself a huge favor and read this complete talk. it will only take a few minutes, but the effects can last a lifetime.

click here

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