Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
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William M. Schweitzer, ed. Jonathan Edwards for the Church: The Ministry and the Means of Grace. Watchmead, Welwyn Garden City, UK: Evangelical Press, 2015. pp. 312. $19.99.
With every passing year, publishers present us with a fresh torrent of books dedicated to Jonathan Edwards’s life and thought. Most of these works fall into one of two categories. Some are scholarly monographs or collections of essays that are often expensive. Others are popularly written works intended for the lay audiences, but these sorts of books are often marred by overly simplistic and pietistic interpretations, evidencing a lack of serious research. Relatively few works about Edwards bear the marks of serious scholarly acumen, yet are written primarily for lay audiences. This is one reason why Jonathan Edwards for the Church is such a needed book.
The volume compiles the proceedings of a conference of the same name that was convened in Durham, England in 2014. The contributors are all ordained ministers, mostly in Reformed ecclesial traditions, though a smattering of Anglicans and a Lutheran are also included. Unfortunately, no Baptists contributed to the book, despite significant Baptist interest in Edwards’s thought both historically and today. Most of the contributors have previously published serious scholarship related to Edwards. In fact, several of the chapters are summaries of arguments previously advanced in monographs and scholarly articles, herein coupled with practical pastoral application. Each author is committed to using his scholarly gifts in service to the church.
Part one focuses on Edwards’s ministry, though this section is erroneously titled “Means of Grace.” Gerald McDermott, one of the two seasoned Edwards scholars among the contributors, offers eight lessons that contemporary pastors can learn from Edwards. Editor William Schweitzer discusses Edwards’s view of pastoral ministry as a means of grace. Roy Mellor addresses Edwards’s termination from his Northampton pastorate, focusing upon ways that Edwards models pastoral integrity in the midst of controversy. Jeffrey Waddington examines Edwards’s ministry as a pastor-apologist, especially known for his defenses of
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revival and Reformed theology. Jon Payne revisits Edwards’s missionary work to the Mahican Indians of western Massachusetts, arguing (contra some interpreters) that Edwards was strongly committed to missionary work both before and during his years in Stockbridge. John Murray offers a historical account of Edwards’s interpretation among (mostly) evangelicals in the British Isles. This latter chapter reflects the book’s British provenance.
Part two is d...
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