Posts Tagged ‘jonathan edwards’

Clicks Are Important

In personal, technology on March 9, 2008 at 4:52 pm

The other day after Sunday School, a friend stopped me and handed me a newspaper clipping of a Dilbert comic. The comic reminded him of me and he made it a point to cut it out and give it to me next time he saw me.

Before the internet, this was how we hyperlinked things.

Now, I’m a technology nut and I think there are many benefits to what technology allows us to do that we couldn’t do before. But, had he emailed me a link to this comic, I probably wouldn’t have thought too much of it. The fact that it was cut out and hand delivered was a little more meaningful, just like we all still enjoy receiving regular mail. Receiving it by hand was much more valuable to me than receiving it by a mouse click.

Then I got to thinking how important my clicks are to me. I read through a lot of news/blogs/articles everyday on the web. Each thing I read through is found with a single click on a hyperlink somewhere during my daily reading. So when I read through something that isn’t very meaningful or doesn’t cause me to stop and think, I honestly feel like I’ve wasted a click.

This isn’t good. I haven’t timed how long it takes me to click a mouse button but I suspect I’d need something better than a second hand to accurately measure it.

I was reading another biography on Jonathan Edwards the other day and found out that his study habits often found him behind his books for 13 hours a day. Now, this 13 hours included his pastoral duties, but it still offers a glimpse into how much time Jonathan spent studying the Word and those who wrote about the Word. But, the biography continued, he never seemed to be in a hurry to do anything. He never seemed as if he had somewhere better to be or something more important to be doing than whatever he was currently engaged in. How many people can we honestly say are like this?

This seems alien to me. Here I am worried about every click of the mouse and whether or not it is a good use of my time and I’m only spending a fraction of my day in the way that I would like to be. It’s difficult not to become so concerned with my time that I make others around me feel like I am unapproachable because I’m too busy.

We read in Ephesians 5:16 that we should make the best use of the time because the days are evil. Paul is referencing an avoidance of a depraved lifestyle in the passage but certainly we can apply this to this situation if I’m living like the world around me. Maybe this is a good time to clean out my feed reader of some unedifying blogs…


Signs of the Spirit, Sam Storms

In books on January 25, 2008 at 11:27 pm

Sam Storms. Signs of the SpiritI wanted to recommend a great book, Sam Storms’ Signs of the Spirit: An Interpretation of Jonathan Edwards’ “Religious Affections”.

The book is actually divided into two very distinct parts. The first part is Storms’ interpretation of Jonathan Edwards’ classic Religious Affections. The second is Edwards’ Narrative mixed in with Storms’ own thoughts on Edwards’ life. I might actually recommend reading over the biographical part of the book first to get a little more into the life of Jonathan Edwards and then read through the first part.

The reason I enjoyed this book so much is because as I read through it, I really had to stop and think about some of my own “religious experiences” I’ve had during my walk with the Lord. Edwards does an extensive job of covering what constitutes an experience given by the Holy Spirit verses those of no consequence and Storms puts it into a language that is easy to understand. Edwards’ work was written after he had experienced revival in his own town and then saw revival fall off. All types of controversies rose up after this from people saying that the revival was a fraud and that Edwards faked emotions in his congregation. Edwards sought to define what types of experiences could be thought of as being born of the Spirit and what types were not or were difficult to discern. There is nothing in the book on the current day Pentecostal/charismatic movement but one could certainly learn more about these movements as a result of the knowledge found in this book.

Maybe this is turning into Jonathan Edwards Month here and not just Edwards Week

Jonathan Edwards Resources

In reference on January 19, 2008 at 11:43 am

I thought I would conclude Jonathan Edwards week by posting some reference material on his life and his writings.




Is the Ultimate End of God's Creation Selfish?

In theology on January 18, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Edwards with a spiderContinuing on with Edwards week here.

There is a section in the “Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1” titled The End for Which God Made the Word. In it, Edwards attempts to answer the question of why God made the world (not a simple question to ponder by the way). A very brief summary of his answer would be; He made it for Himself. Of course Edwards unpacks his answer much more than this so have a read if you’re interested in learning more.

But then at the end of his dissertation, and a lot of authors used to do this, he answers objections to his answer. This is similar to what Paul does in Romans when he says, “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? (Romans 6:15)” or “You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault?” For who resists His will? (Romans 9:19)” and then he goes on to answer these questions. I’m not sure if these objections that Edwards answered were his own objections initially or if they were objections that came up from others in conversation or if they were just what he though people might say, please comment if you have any details on this.

One objection was as follows:

Some may object, that to suppose God makes himself his highest and last end, is dishonorable to him; as it in effect supposes, that God does every thing from a selfish spirit. Selfishness is looked upon as mean and sordid in the creature; unbecoming and even hateful in such a worm of the dust as man. We should look upon a man as of a base and contemptible character, who should in every thing he did, be governed by selfish principles; should make his private interest his governing aim in all his conduct in life. How far then should we be from attributing any such thing to the Supreme Being, the blessed and only Potentate! Does it not become us to ascribe to him the most noble and generous dispositions, and qualities the most remote from every thing private, narrow, and sordid?

And in his response is this amazing statement about God:

But if God be indeed so great, and so excellent, that all other beings are as nothing to him, and all other excellency be as nothing, and less than nothing and vanity, in comparison of his, and God be omniscient and infallible, and perfectly knows that he is infinitely the most valuable being, then it is fit that his heart should be agreeable to this—which is indeed the true nature and proportion of things, and agreeable to this infallible and all-comprehending understanding which he has of them, and that perfectly clear light in which he views them—and that he should value himself infinitely more than his creatures.

Wow. I wish I had a view of God in this way. Edwards’ writings have an aroma of humility and God-centrality that few match. He knew His place in comparison to a holy God and sought to make others aware of how glorious the Lord truly is in his writings and sermons.

On a side note, why is it that writers don’t answer objections in their material any more? Is it just too formal a thing to do? Or is it looked upon as being arrogant? I wonder if it’s just because so much of today’s writing seems to be answering an objection in the first place. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

The picture above is a rendering of Edwards as a boy looking at a spider. He was fascinated with all of the sciences, especially spiders. He actually wrote a lot of material on spiders and their habits.

Edwards' Definition of Life

In theology on January 17, 2008 at 11:14 am

EdwardsEdwards week continues here.

Today we have a post from Christ is Deeper Still on how Edwards defined life. The biography he references is top notch, if you are looking to get into a good biography, this is an excellent read.

Jonathan Edwards' 70 Resolutions

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2008 at 4:44 pm

Since this is now officially Jonathan Edwards Week at Help My Unbelief I thought I would post a list of resolutions that Edwards made when he was in his late teens. You can find the list at The Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics (have a look around while you’re there, it’s a great site).

You’ll notice a few of the resolutions deal with eating/drinking habits that may be a bit strange. Jonathan Edwards was extremely conscious of every action or thought that might be sinful. He seemed to pay particular attention to his eating/drinking habits and would ration his intake of food to the minimum possible amount, even at the expense of his personal health. People that knew him often begged him to eat more because he typically looked very weak as if he were about to faint.

Here are some of the resolutions that I found particularly interesting:

  1. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.
  2. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
  3. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then, both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
  4. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
  5. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.

Acts 14:7

In acts_14_7 on January 15, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Our reflection on the gospel this week comes from Jonathan Edwards in his “Religious Affections” work:

Truly to see the truth of the word of God, is to see the truth of the gospel; which is the glorious doctrine the word of God contains, concerning God, and Jesus Christ, and the way of salvation by him, and the world of glory that he is entered into, and purchased for all them who believe;

Jesus paid a great price to purchase his beloved. The cost was no less than his own blood. But he willingly paid it so that we could enter into the glory that is his alone. But how can we know this is true? How can we know there was a man named Jesus who died on a cross 2000 years ago? There is a book that contains this truth if you are willing to search it out and find it. The reward is great but it will cost you your life to obtain it, just as it did Christ’s to give it.

“And there they continued to preach the gospel” – Acts 14:7

Each Tuesday a different reflection on the gospel and its continual effect on our lives

Jonathan Edwards Whirlwind Weekend; Pictures

In travel on January 15, 2008 at 8:53 am

All the pictures from this past weekend can be found on flickr now.

Jonathan Edwards Whirlwind Weekend; Take 2

In travel on January 14, 2008 at 10:37 pm

This past weekend Libby and I were able to spend a few days in the New England area, touring a few sites that were of particular interest to us…ok mostly to me, but Libby had fun too! From Wikipedia:

Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758) was a colonial American Congregational preacher, theologian, and missionary to Native Americans. Edwards “is widely acknowledged to be America’s most important and original philosophical theologian”. He is known as one of the greatest and most profound of American theologians and revivalists. His work is very broad in scope, but he is often associated with his defense of Calvinist theology, the metaphysics of theological determinism, and the Puritan heritage. His fire-and-brimstone sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” emphasized the just wrath of God against sin and contrasted it with the provision of God for salvation; the intensity of his preaching sometimes resulted in members of the audience fainting, swooning, and other more obtrusive reactions. The swooning and other behaviors in his audience caught him up in a controversy over “bodily effects” of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

It is hard to sum up Edwards in one paragraph, so I would suggest reading more about him.

Our trip included a visit to Northampton, MA, then we stopped in NYC to hear Tim Keller preach again, then we made a quick jet to Princeton, NJ.

Northampton, MA – this is where Edwards began his ministry. I have to say the town seems to have forgotten its past in this respect. If you didn’t know who Edwards was before visiting the town, you probably wouldn’t find out before leaving. This is not to say that it is not worth a visit to the town, one site in particular made the trip an absolute joy.

  1. Historic Northampton Museum and Education Center has a section devoted to Jonathan Edwards and the life of the town during his ministry there.
    historic northampton museum outside

    historic northampton museum

  2. First Churches is the site where Edwards’ church met. It is not the original building; only a circular step remains of the original building with a small plaque to describe it. Inside you will find a bas-relief memorial to Edwards, although the building was closed when we were there. The building location is right in the center of town on the main road. In the 1700s it would have been a meeting house for all types of community events other than Sunday Morning services. Today, it doesn’t seem to have the same draw. The main street is lined with small boutique stores which seems to be where the townspeople spend the majority of their time.
    First Churches

    First Churches stepping stone

  3. The Edwards Church was started in 1833 but named its church after Jonathan Edwards. There are portraits of Jonathan and Sarah inside although this building was also closed when we were there.
    edwards church
  4. The Manse was the residence of Edwards’ grandfather Solomon Stoddard. It is privately owned today so a tour was not possible.
    the manse
  5. 127 King St. is the original location of Edwards’ homestead, where his wife Sarah provided housing to all types of travelers and missionaries in addition to raising their eleven children. The actual home is no longer there, what’s in its place now?
    st. valentines church
    A Roman Catholic church.
    edwards square
  6. Bridge Street Cemetery has a memorial to the Edwards family and is the burial place of his daughter Jerusha, who died when she was only 17.
    burial site of Jerusha Edwards
  7. The Forbes Library is not an historical site with regards to Jonathan Edwards, but, for me, this was the gem of the entire trip. There is a fabulous woman working in the library who spent quite some time showing us a few handwritten letters from Edwards as well as some of his handwritten sermons. The sermons he wrote were far to small to be read with the naked eye and she described to us that Edwards had a photographic memory and did not have a need to re-read the sermons he wrote out. She was very knowledgeable in the history of Northampton and, being a believer, has devoted much of her research to Edwards himself. This insight she gave us was far better than any of the historic sites we visited and both Libby and I left feeling uplifted from the time she graciously spent with us. Outside the library, they have kept a doorstep from Edwards’ homestead and setup a small plaque to describe it.
    doorstep from jonathan edwards' homestead

In all, the town is a great place to visit if you would like to see more of the history surround Jonathan Edwards. Obviously, the town has changed much physically since the 1700s but walking around gives you a feel for what the layout of the town would have been back then. With the church building so prominently in the central part of town, it is apparent how active the church was in the affairs of the town. Edwards’ home was only a few blocks away and would not have been very far for him to travel back and forth between the two.

After driving down through New York City to hear Tim Keller preach again (more on that tomorrow), Libby and I made a quick stop at the Princeton Cemetery, where Edwards was buried along side many other men who were president of Princeton University.

Edwards grave

edwards grave plaque

So ends our trip. Libby and I had a great time, I would like to go back and drive through Yale and see the collection there sometime and also go back to Northampton and see the sites when they are actually open. I would highly recommend this type of trip for anyone who has studied the life of Jonathan Edwards.

Jonathan Edwards Whirlwind Weekend

In travel on January 13, 2008 at 9:19 pm

Libby and I just got home from our trip and we are exhausted but I am so excited from this weekend. We visited:

  1. Northampton, MA; where Jonathan Edwards began his ministry
  2. Clinton, CT; to visit some good friends
  3. NYC; to visit Redeemer Presbyterian Church and listen to Tim Keller preach, again
  4. Princeton, NJ; to see where Jonathan Edwards was buried

I will share more about the trip this week, but here is a teaser

Jonathan Edwards