The Other Jonathan Edwards

Selected Writings on Society, Love, and Justice
An anthology of primary documents that reveal a different Jonathan Edwards

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Widely regarded as perhaps America’s greatest theologian, Jonathan Edwards still suffers the stereotype of hellfire preacher obsessed with God’s wrath. In this anthology, Gerald McDermott and Ronald Story seek to correct that common view by showing that Edwards was also a compassionate, socially conscious minister of the first order.

Through a selection of sermons and primary writings, McDermott and Story reveal an Edwards who preached love toward all humanity regardless of belief or appearance; who demanded private and public charity to the poor; who criticized hard-hearted business dealings as impious and socially destructive; and who condemned envy and status-seeking as anti-Christian and anti-community. This “other” Jonathan Edwards preached about grace and the love of God but also about responsive constitutional government, the iniquities of hypocrisy and corruption, and the nature of wise leadership. He acknowledged the need for national defense but left room for popular revolt from tyranny. He anticipated a millennial age of peace and prosperity and believed that people should live in the world as they would live through grace in heaven.

Jonathan Edwards was, in sum, a worldly as well as spiritual reformer who resisted the materialistic, acquisitive, and individualistic currents of American culture. For these reasons, McDermott and Story think he may have lessons to teach us today.

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