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Archive for February, 2012

Sweeney’s Booknotes: The Trinitarian Vision of Jonathan Edwards and David Coffey

Steven M. Studebaker, The Trinitarian Vision of Jonathan Edwards and David Coffey (Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2011).

Steven Studebaker, a Trinity grad who teaches at McMaster Divinity College in Ontario, has published more than anyone on Edwards and the Trinity–including three books in the past four years. This book, however, is the most revealing and personal of his writings on the subject. It compares Edwards with Studebaker’s mentor, David Coffey, an Australian Roman Catholic who taught for a time at Marquette University in Milwaukee when Steve was a doctoral student there.

Edwards, Coffey, and Studebaker share a strong affinity for the Augustinian mutual love model of the Trinity. And in Studebaker’s telling, this has yielded in all three of them “a way of thinking about salvation that is primarily relational and transformational” (i.e. more than forensic and then moral) and “a theological basis for an optimistic attitude that the grace of Christ can touch those people who participate in a non-Christian religion and have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (p. 2).

Historians of theology will recognize that Studebaker is working in the train of Coffey’s teacher Karl Rahner as he explicates Augustine and especially the notion of anonymous Christianity. Edwards scholars will recognize that Steve builds on the scholarship of Anri Morimoto and Gerald R. McDermott when it comes to Edwards’ understanding of spiritual rebirth and the possibility that non-Christian seekers might experience it.

The book has six chapters, all remarkably erudite. Chapter one lays out the Augustinian mutual love tradition. Chapter two places Edwards and Coffey within that grand tradition. Chapters three and four treat the Spirit-Christology and pneumatological concept of grace found in both Edwards and Coffey, which fill out their Trinitarian understanding of salvation and prepare the way for Studebaker’s constructive contribution. Chapter five maps out what Studebaker calls “A Trinitarian and Evangelical Vision of Redemption.” Chapter six develops “A Trinitarian and Evangelical Theology of Religions.”

This volume is an exercise in ecumenical thinking by an up-and-coming scholar with an evangelical pedigree and sympathy for Roman Catholic history and theology. Studebaker employs Edwards and Coffey in an effort to promote doctrinal convergence among the people he knows best (evangelicals and Catholics) on the issues at the center of their longstanding division (soteriological issues). Conservatives on both sides may dislike his argument. But Edwards scholars will find here a window onto Studebaker’s soul and its passion to promote renewed reflection on the Trinitarian vision of Jonathan Edwards.

–By Douglas Sweeney, Director of the JEC at TEDS

Anyabwile Lecture Media Now Available

The JEC is pleased to announce that the audio from Thabiti Anyabwile’s Jonathan Edwards and the Church lecture is now available. Click here to stream the audio or here to stream the video or visit our media page to download the audio file. See below for a description of the event:

Jonathan Edwards and American Racism:

Can the Theology of a Slave Owner Be Trusted by Descendants of Slaves?

Jonathan Edwards is arguably the most important theologian that North America has produced. He is a hero to many Christians. Yet he also owned slaves, a fact that has raised important questions about his moral credibility. Should we really be holding Edwards up as a theological role model? Should we be trying to learn from him? These are live questions here at Trinity and beyond. Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile has thought about these questions–as a pastor, an African American, and adherent to Reformed theology. We invite you to listen in as he reflects about them personally, engaging two other African-American pastors and the audience in an edifying installment of the Edwards Center series ‘Jonathan Edwards and the Church,’ moderated by Dr. Sweeney.

This event was cosponsored by the Henry Center and the JEC. Pastor Anyabwile’s lecture took place on Wednesday, Feb 1, 1-2:30pm in the ATO Chapel on the TEDS campus. Pastor Louis Love of New Life Fellowship Church, Vernon Hills, and Pastor Charlie Dates of Progressive Baptist Church of Chicago responded to the lecture.

Lecture Media: Audio | Video

Colloquium Audio Now Available

The JEC is pleased to announce that the audio from the colloquium on Jonathan Edwards’ global legacies  is now available. Click here to stream the audio or visit our media page to download the audio file. See below for a description of the event:

Colloquium on Jonathan Edwards’ Global Legacies:

Douglas Sweeney and Oliver Crisp have co-edited an exciting new volume on Jonathan Edwards: “After Jonathan Edwards: The Courses of the New England Theology.” Based on this new book, the Jonathan Edwards Center at TEDS is presented a panel discussion on these men’s work. This JEC event was part of the New Directions in Edwards Studies series. The lecture was held on January 6, 2012 at 1pm in Hinkson Hall on the campus of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Lecture Media: Audio