Lecture 1, His Early Life:
Human beings tend to romanticize and idealize the lives of those individuals we admire, particularly those that lived in an era far removed from ourselves. We smooth out a wrinkle here, turn a blind eye to an episode there, and, poof, an impeccable figure emerges from a charmed existence. The great American theologian Jonathan Edwards has not escaped this idealizing. Yet, a full understanding of his theology and the decisions he made demands a realistic examination of his life, from beginning to end. Dr. Steve Nichols takes us through the life of Edwards in this study, illuminating the details of his life, good and bad, so that we might better understand how God ultivated and crafted Edwards into His servant—who many consider the greatest theologian the United States has ever produced.
I am listening to this series of video on the history of Edwards. Wonderful.
Lecture 2, A Minister of the Gospel:
At a young age—no later than nineteen—Jonathan Edwards sat down to write his resolutions. He would eventually produce seventy resolutions, a large number, to be sure. Yet, the penning of resolutions was not anomalous in Edwards’ era. Benjamin Franklin, for instance, also composed his own list, although he limited his resolutions to thirteen. Educated men and women undertook this task to promote self-contemplation and the cultivation of character. The defining feature of Edwards’ resolutions, however, involves the ability to keep them. Whereas most men, Franklin among them, followed the ideals of the Enlightenment, believing themselves masters of their own nature through reason, Edwards understood his sinful nature and placed himself humbly at the grace of God. Only by the goodness of His Creator could he hope to remain faithful to the resolutions. This Spirit-filled humility would serve him well throughout his time at Yale and during the early stages of his ministry.
Lecture 3, The Great Awakening:
The Puritans are encumbered by a caricature of strictness and dourness in our day and age. Their mention calls forth images of judgment, wrath, and superstition, and almost without doubt people look to Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” as the paradigm of this group’s sentiment. Sadly, this caricature fails to do justice to Edwards and the Puritans, as it captures only a small part of the gospel they preached. Edwards and his Puritan contemporaries knew well the condemnation promised by God for disobedience, but they knew it in light of the great promise of salvation offered by the gospel. Edwards wrote more about the joy, pleasure, and happiness of salvation than anything else, and during the Great Awakening he poured out this message of grace that promises eternal life for undeserving sinners.