Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 16:3 (Fall 2012)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

The Theology of Jonathan Edwards. By Michael J. McClymond and Gerald McDermott. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012, 757 pp., $65.00, cloth.

One of the most important principles of Protestantism is that the human conscience must give consent only to the revealed truth of God present now as a deposit of truth in the sixty-six books of the canonical Scripture. One disadvantage, or perhaps an abuse, of this principle is that ministers and laity alike might fail to invest sufficient time in mastering the systems of worthy gifted expositors of biblical truth. Advantages of this principle are many, including the openness to correction of faulty systems, a freedom exemplified preeminently in the Reformation. Another is the suppleness with which a profound thinker thoroughly committed to biblical truth can engage contemporary ideas with examination and, if needed, critique, from the foundation of a biblical standard. Another is the invitation from God for an incessant probing of the biblical data to understand both him and his world with the realization that reception of that invitation to delight can never be exhausted. Another is the ever-present watchfulness of a confident laity that all our ideas must arise from a “Thus saith the Lord.”

Somehow the massive upsurge in the study of Edwards in the past half-century has tapped in on both disadvantages and advantages of the Protestant ideal. While we have no official tradition that constitutes an accepted authority for theological formation, some thinkers have emerged that cause the rest of us to make more rapid and more thorough progress in the faith with them than we would without them. In the short list of such Protestant instructors is Jonathan Edwards. This book illustrates why this is so. As transcendently great as Edwards has proven to be, he was not immune from the rejection of a laity that felt he had overstepped biblical boundaries. By divine providence, however, that lay confidence led to a period of consolidated labors for Edwards that allowed him to complete much of the theological project that had been arranging itself in his mind throughout his

years of Christian ministry.

McClymond and McDermott have written a discussion of this Edwardsean project in a way that highlights the inventive, but truly conservative, genius of Jonathan Edwards. In order to give the greatest opportunity for Edwards’s entire system of thought to come to life, they have divided the book into three “Parts” consisting of forty-five chapters. The middle “Part” has four sections that systematize Edwards’s theology, ethics, aesthetics, apologetics, and philosophy. Part One gives an introduction to the “Historical, Cultur...

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