Jonathan Edwards’s Doctrine Of The Covenant Of Redemption Within The Framework Of The History Of Redemption -- By: Gilsun Ryu

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 81:1 (Spring 2019)
Article: Jonathan Edwards’s Doctrine Of The Covenant Of Redemption Within The Framework Of The History Of Redemption
Author: Gilsun Ryu


Jonathan Edwards’s Doctrine Of The Covenant
Of Redemption Within The Framework
Of The History Of Redemption

Gilsun Ryu

Gilsun Ryu is a part-time lecturer at Kukje Theological University and Seminary in South Korea.

In his letter to the trustees of the College of New Jersey, Edwards introduced the history project as “a body of divinity in an entire new method, being thrown into the form of a history.” This description begs many questions, some of which have arisen among Edwards scholars. Given the difficulty in understanding the “entire new method” Edwards envisioned, it comes as no surprise that the nature of this intended work has been debated among a series of scholars. Recent Trinitarian theologians such as Amy Plantinga Pauw and Sang Hyun Lee believe Edwards’s concept of relationality between persons of the Godhead departed from Western church tradition and Reformed theology. Opposing their view, this study considers the new methods as something familiar to the early-modern Calvinists. Nonetheless, this study is neither directly involved in the debate over the character of the history project nor does it attempt to provide a sketch of the context in which Edwards planned to write it. Rather, the purpose of this article is to identify his doctrine of the covenant of redemption as a summary of his view of redemptive history. While Edwards’s view of the covenant of redemption is distinct when compared to Puritan Reformed orthodoxy, it was not devised based on his metaphysical musings or concern for the Christian life. On the contrary, Edwards developed the redemptive historical aspect of the covenant of redemption, using the history of redemption as an interpretive framework for understanding the Godhead and the covenant of redemption.

Edwards’s doctrine of the covenant of redemption as the inner-Trinitarian eternal pact between the Father and the Son is part of his doctrine of the Trinity.1 Accordingly, scholarly works on Edwards’s understanding of the covenant of redemption have mainly concentrated on aspects of the

relationship between the immanent Trinity and the economic Trinity.2 In this regard, Amy Plantinga Pauw asserts that Edwards employed “two distinct models of the immanent Trinity”: (1) the Augustinian view that portrays “the Son and Spirit as the Wisdom and Love of the one God,” and (2) a social model that “depicts the Godhead as a society or family of persons.”3 From this, she argues that Edwards’s Trinitarianism provides “largely untapped resources for ...

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