Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 03:2 (Jul 2011)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

John Carrick. The Preaching of Jonathan Edwards. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2008. 465 pp., hardcover.

This is a very important book on one of America’s most important pastor-theologians. In the realm of Edwards studies, relatively little attention has been given to the theology and rhetoric of his preaching. Carrick’s work is significant, not only for its historical interest, but because it dissects Edwards’s preaching in a manner that sets him forth as a pattern of powerful rhetoric for contemporary preachers. In particular, Jonathan Edwards is an excellent model for blending together strong exposition, sound doctrine, and piercing application. This healthy mixture is conspicuously absent in most modern preaching, making Carrick’s work not simply a useful read but a necessary one in our day and age.

This large book is divided into twenty-eight chapters, which treat virtually every feature of Edwards’s sermons, including introductions, doctrine, application, illustrations, conclusions, and much more. The chapters on “God-Centeredness” (ch. 2), “Introductions” (ch. 8), “Different Categories of Hearers” (ch. 16), and “The Spirit of God” (ch. 27) are particularly helpful. The last of these reveals the heart of Carrick’s treatment of Edwards’s preaching. We must not simply view Edwards’s sermons from a literary standpoint, but from a homiletical and spiritual standpoint (444). As much as we have to learn from Edwards’s rhetoric and style of preaching, the greatest lesson that we have to learn from him is dependence upon and confidence in the power of the Third Person in the Trinity in our preaching. This leaves readers with a carefully maintained balance between developing effective rhetorical methods in preaching, while simultaneously placing all hope and dependence upon the Spirit of God rather than upon methods.

Edwards’s use of application in his sermons is both gripping in its force and astonishing in its breadth and depth. One of the primary needs in modern preaching is to recover powerful and searching application that is deeply rooted in a thorough exposition of Scripture and a clear understanding of theology. Edwards is perhaps one of the most preeminent examples of effective sermon application in the history of Christianity. This reason alone makes this book one that ministers cannot afford to pass by.

An interesting feature of this work is how the author has interwoven the historical context of Edwards’s life with his treatment of Edwards’s sermons. The result is that, instead of reading as a bare list of citations and observations, the book presents a gripping narrative. It abounds with primary source evidence, much ...

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