Books and 300th Anniversary
As many of you know, October 5th, 2003, marked the 300th anniversary of Jonathan Edwards, my favorite dead person! Numerous conferences, countless journal articles, lectureships, and books were scheduled to coincide with this event. Below is a listing of some of the more significant publications in 2004.
A God Entranced Vision of All Things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004).
I especially excited about this volume, which is in large measure the fruit of a conference honoring the legacy of Edwards held in Minneapolis, Minnesota in October of 2003. I was privileged to be among those who spoke at this conference where 2,500 gathered to worship the God of Edwards and to think deeply about the God-intoxicated and God-entranced worldview that he embraced. My message at the conference was entitled, “Joy’s Eternal Increase: Jonathan Edwards on the Beauty of Heaver.” However, it is not found in this volume because I chose to include it in my book, “One Thing: Developing a Passion for the Beauty of God” (Christian Focus). My contribution to this volume is an analysis of Edwards on freedom of the will, with particular emphasis on his refutation of libertarian freedom. I also address the probe that Edwards’ view poses for addressing the existence of evil. There are three other essays in this volume that were not part of the Minneapolis conference. Stephen Nichols of Lancaster Bible College and Graduate School contributes a chapter on the life of Edwards’ treatise, Religious Affections, and Paul Helm, emeritus professor from the University of London writes on Original Sin. Perhaps I am prejudiced, but I believe this is the best collection of essays released in 2003.
Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George Marsden (New Haven: Yale University Press). This was not only the most publicized contribution to Edwardsean scholarship but also provides us with a definitive biographical study. Although Marsden insists this is not an intellectual biography, it surpasses Iain Murray’s otherwise fine work in tracing the development of multiple themes in Edwards’ theology. Murray’s work is certainly a helpful treatment of Edwards on revival and religious affections, but Marsden addresses wide range of Edwardsean concepts, including freedom of the will, original sin, his dissertation on the end for which God created the world, and the nature of true virtue, issues on which Murray said virtually nothing. Marsden excels in unpacking the social, historical, and religious background of Edwards’ day and brings alive the demands and harsh realities of what it was to be a pastor in 28th century colonial America. One cannot help but appreciate the depth of commitment of Edwards to his pastoral calling upon reading Marsden’s description of the rigors and threats that he faced on a daily basis. Marsden is unparalleled among Edwardsean biographers.