Shocking Beliefs of Jonathan Edwards

Shocking Beliefs of Jonathan Edwards November 24, 2014


This post has been removed because I’m editing it and it will appear in a full-length book, which is due to release in 2019.

The book will features the shocking beliefs of C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, John Wesley, Augustine, Jonathan Edwards, and others — the “greats” who shaped evangelicalism.

The point of the book — which is titled ReGrace: What the Shocking Beliefs of the Great Christians Can Teach Us Today — will be to encourage civility and grace when Christians disagree over theological (and political) issues.

When we recognize that even our Christian heroes held flawed, surprising, and even shocking beliefs on some things, it will give us pause before we bid another sister or brother in Christ to hell over an alleged doctrinal trespass.

I can’t wait for the book to release and to share it with you. I promise you will be entertained, intrigued, laugh, and perhaps even cry from it.

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  • Joshua Master Ball

    “My hair is looking particularly fancy today.” – Jonathan Edwards

  • David Hesiquio Rodriguez

    I love you Sarah! – Jonathan Edwards

  • Angela

    “What the church has been used to, is not a rule by which we are to judge; because there may be new and extraordinary works of God, and he has heretofore evidently wrought in an extraordinary manner. He has brought to pass new things, strange works; and has wrought in such a manner as to surprise both men and angels. And as God has done thus in times past, so we have no reason to think but that he will do so still. The prophecies of Scripture give us reason to think that God has things to accomplish, which have never yet been seen. No deviation from what has hitherto been usual, let it be never so great, is an argument that a work is not from the Spirit of God, if it be no deviation from his prescribed rule. The Holy Spirit is sovereign in his operation; and we know that he uses a great variety; and we cannot tell how great a variety he may use, within the compass of the rules he himself has fixed. We ought not to limit God where he has not limited himself”

  • Jesse Smith

    My favorite Edward’s quote:

    “Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.”

    My dad also died at 54 years of age and I want to make my own life count. Thanks for this great article and the spirit behind it.

  • Joni Hannigan

    What I think is shocking is that more scholars and theologians don’t avail themselves of the “whole” truth about their heroes of the faith — and fail to admit their shortcomings, while embracing others of their teaching. In doing so, they themselves are guilty of a New Age-like approach to the Scripture; they take on a smorgasbord of discombobulated statements and teachings that make little sense. And they clobber people who simply try and point out their inconsistencies.

  • bill80205

    Remember, Lewis was not a theologian; he was a philosopher and apologist.

  • Ann Johnstone

    “By the grace of God we will never pluck unripe fruit. We will never press people to decision, because we’ll lead them to damnation and not salvation.” Interesting.

  • I’ve read so many Edwards quotes over the years but one that is particularly meaningful to me is,
    “All truth is given by revelation, either general or special, and it must be received by reason. Reason is the God-given means for discovering the truth that God discloses, whether in his world or his Word. While God wants to reach the heart with truth, he does not bypass the mind.”

    It resonated with me because I spent a huge chunk of my life being told what to think and just accepting it as Truth. Only after rejecting everything and “Seeking First the Kingdom…” on my own terms and working it out in my own mind, did I come to the revelation of who Christ really is. And it has changed my heart forever.

  • The point is that countless people don’t really believe that about themselves. Hence the royal mistreatment of others in the Christian camp. That’s why the point is so vital.

    Throwing the spotlight on these “heroes” and their “shocking beliefs” has already softened some hearts to not be so critical of other people’s views and to embrace what is valuable in their contribution, regardless of other disagreements they may have.

    This fact has made the series critical and worthwhile so far.

  • Yes, I was aware of that, but I don’t think many would find that shocking.

  • Interesting. The view that the Spirit is the Love of God shared by Father and Son is pretty common. Is this your favorite Edwards quote?

  • Urthman

    Don’t know if this counts as shocking, but Edwards has an amazing essay on the Trinity in which he muses that the Second Person of the Trinity may be an emergent property of God’s self-knowledge. Like the old Stephen Wright joke (“I’ve got a full scale map of the USA. One mile equals one mile.”), Edwards suggests that God’s self-knowledge is so comprehensive that it would be a copy of himself:

    “The idea he has of himself would be himself again.”

    “Therefore as God with perfect clearness, fullness and strength, understands Himself, views His own essence (in which there is no distinction of substance and act but which is wholly substance and wholly act), that idea which God hath of Himself is absolutely Himself. This representation of the Divine nature and essence is the Divine nature and essence again: so that by God’s thinking of the Deity must certainly be generated. Hereby there is another person begotten, there is another Infinite Eternal Almighty and most holy and the same God, the very same Divine nature.”

    — An Unpublished Essay on the Trinity

    He goes on to speculate that the love between the Father and the Son is so great and comprehensive as to be, as well, a Person, and thus, the Holy Spirit.

  • cell92

    Great series, looking forward to more about the “shocking beliefs” of great saints of the past–which to me further shows God’s great love and grace for us all. It’s nice to see that these great believers were not the “cookie cutter” Christians so many evangelicals demand they be. Also, regarding your previous post about C.S. Lewis, I had read somewhere that he accepted the concept of theistic evolution. Have you come across this belief in his works? (As a side note, A Grief Observed help me get through a very painful time in my life. Also, Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters have great insights. One of my older sisters took a class entirely devoted to his works at a Catholic college she attended–how I wish I could have been in that class!)

  • curious

    Like you said…’We’re ALL in process…’ so what’s the point; we ALL look/sound bad at various stages …. even bloggers/managers!

  • Larry Prater

    In regards to #7, Douglas Elwood coined the phrase “concrete theism” in describing Edwards’ rather unique ideas about God and nature. See Elwood’s The Philosophical Theology of Jonathan Edwards.