Jonathan Edwards Book Review

by | Aug 15, 2018

Years ago I was introduced to Jonathan Edwards when a young man quoted from “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. My internal safety system went on high alert for I believed God was an angry, cruel old man up in the skies longing to catch someone – especially me – doing something wrong! 

I decided I didn’t like Edwards and would never read his writings. Fast forward to a few weeks ago as I was praying over a book to choose to do a book review, the Lord nudged me. “Choose The Essential Jonathan Edwards.” 

I wasn’t a happy camper but decided, “Hey! I can write a negative review as easily as a positive one.”

And so I sent for my book. I am grateful the Lord isn’t biased. He chose an excellent book for me.

If you enjoy short devotionals tasting like donuts or cream puffs, this book is not for you.

If you enjoy books that include grass fed beef, fiber rich veggies, and fruit uncontaminated by sugar, you will enjoy this book.

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God is beautiful. It requires "all of man's senses to comprehend it". Bow in awe before the excellency of His perfection.

Creation is
beautiful. Worship the Creator, awed by His intelligence and majesty displayed through creative
order.

Christ is beautiful. Devote yourself to pursuing Him for the simple reason - He is worthy!

The Church is beautiful. Christ eternally delights in her. Though imperfect, she demonstrates His divine glory.

A Vital Read

In the section  “Lover of God”, Strachan and Sweeney, captured my heart. Jonathan’s story unfolded, revealing his humanity, trials he experienced, his delight in the Lord, and ended with his tragic death. 

Jonathan honored his wife, Sarah. He often spent 12 hours daily in study and writing, yet he never viewed his 10 children as an interruption. Seeing them as a higher priority than the ministry, he was available whenever they needed him. The result was they each were strong in the faith.

For fans of David Brainerd: for a period of time he lived with the Edwards family; that story is included. Later in the book, a couple chapters are devoted to Brainerd’s influence.

In this 428 page book, Strachan and Sweeny have skillfully woven passages from Edwards’ writings into four separate parts. Following “Beauty” is “The Good Life”; this section establishes God is our foundation and He desires us to experience joy and happiness.

Do you long for happiness? Edwards shares, “The happiest people on earth are … those who do what God desires.” (211) Despite our depravity, God loves us. His provision should engender deep love rising out of gratitude. “If we love not God because he is what he is, but only because he is profitable to us, in truth we love him not at all. If we seem to love him, our love is not to him, but to something else.” (218).

“True Christianity” focused on nominal Christianity of the 18th century church where “Godliness is more easily feigned in words than in actions”. Edwards sought to awaken his people to the emptiness of intellectual belief in God by grounding them in the Word.

Knowledge can’t replace tasting and finding the Lord is sweet, even as knowing honey is sweet can’t replace the experience of tasting the sweetness of honey.

The last section is “Heaven & Hell”. Edwards believed sinners stood on the brink of hell, deceived, and oblivious to the afterlife. Passionately, he warned them of God’s wrath upon those alienated from Him.

Edwards was a man of his time and engaged in what we would consider fear tactics. We must remember his motive was compassion for his people.

He balanced teachings of hell with the beauty of heaven being a world of love, “where everything has a cast of holy love, and everything conspires to promote and stir up love, and nothing to interrupt its exercises; where everything is fitted by an all-wise God for the enjoyment of love under the greatest advantages.” (414).

Happiness Is Possible

Woven through the book is the recurrent theme of God’s beauty and His desire for us to enjoy Him.

This is a highly readable book but as Edwards was a prolific writer, once you finish the biographical section, it requires thoughtful reading.

Edwards’ focus on “true happiness” found in the Lord was refreshing. He challenges us to consider the Lord wants us to find delight and enjoyment all through our day. Personally, I believe that only happens when we walk in deep mindful gratitude to our Beloved Lord.

I was interested to learn Strachan & Sweeney have “unearthed the choicest treasures of Edwards’ writing for lay people to discover”. These include 5 books, also sold as a set: The Essential Edwards Collection.

Happy Reading!

Thanks to Blogging for Books for providing this book in exchange for my honest review.

God bless you my Friend!
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