From the JEC Blog

Jonathan Edwards Congress 2015: Call For Papers

Jonathan Edwards Congress 2015 LogoThe Jonathan Edwards Center at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia will be hosting the 2015 Jonathan Edwards Congress (Aug 24-28). Rhys Bezzant, director of the Ridley College Center and friend to the TEDS Jonathan Edwards Center, has issued a call for papers. This event’s theme is “The Global Edwards” and the program promises an accomplished lineup of keynote speakers including our very own Doug Sweeney. The links below contain additional details.

Call for Papers

Conference Registration

Sweeney’s Booknotes: George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father

Thomas S. Kidd, George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014)

This year marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of George Whitefield (1714-1770) and historians have been making hay in the tercentennial sunshine. Academics have been gathering to commemorate Whitefield in places like Pembroke College, Oxford (where Whitefield went to school), Cape Town, South Africa (at George Whitefield College) and, closer to home, Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. The most important fruit of their labors comes from our friend, Tommy Kidd, whose new monograph on Whitefield is about to be released.

Some will know Professor Kidd as the author of other books on eighteenth-century America: God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution; Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots; and The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America.

Others will know him as an historian who blogs about religion and its relevance today at The Anxious Bench.

Less learned folks may know that Kidd appeared on Glenn Beck (the former conservative TV program on the Fox News Channel) to share his knowledge about Whitefield. Here’s a recording of his appearance and a transcript.

Much like Whitefield himself, Kidd is a skillful media maven with a knack for plain speech. Though his books are erudite, they are also clearly written and remarkably even-handed. Kidd is certainly not the first to write a book about Whitefield. His does not offer a great deal of new information. But it does provide a calm and comprehensive presentation of an evangelical star—not an easy thing to do–who maintained a long friendship with Edwards.

Most of his predecessors have taken fire for either over-identifying with Whitefield’s spirituality or explaining it away as a product of his own social and psychological history. As Kidd has confessed in his book’s introduction:

Writing biographies, and writing religious biographies in particular, presents significant challenges. The temptation to write hagiography—the biography of a pristine saint—is ever present. In placing Whitefield within the new evangelical world, I am not offering an unsullied picture of a sanctified man, nor is my primary aim to edify readers spiritually. Yet historians today know that none of us is fully objective—personal perspectives matter. So let me admit it up front: I have a high regard for Whitefield. I identify personally with the religious movement he helped start. Yet I hope that I have also been fair to his critics and transparent about his obvious failings as a man and minister (3-4).

This kind of honesty and clarity have enabled Kidd to write a book on Whitefield for everyone—fans of Glenn Beck and supporters of the Clintons, home schoolers and cosmopolitans, evangelicals and their critics. It deserves a wide readership.

If you want to know more, join us at Dr. Kidd’s lecture in our Jonathan Edwards Center, Wednesday, October 29, 1pm, in Hinkson Hall, “George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, and the Eighteenth-Century Calvinist Network.”

Sweeney’s Booknotes: Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God

Dane C. Ortlund, Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God, Theologians on the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014)

Jonathan Edwards on the Christian LifeOK, I know what you’re thinking. We’ve had a spate of books on Edwards intended to edify believers in the past several years. But give this new volume a chance. Dane C. Ortlund is an excellent theologian from Wheaton College. He has written on Edwards before. He knows Edwards’ thought well. Plus, he focuses here on what he calls “the organizing theme” of Edwards’ approach to Christian living: beauty. I love it. “To become a Christian is to become alive to beauty,” Ortlund claims. “This is the contribution to Christianity that Jonathan Edwards makes and no one has made better” (p. 23).

In thirteen chapters, Ortlund walks his readers through the major elements of Edwards’ understanding of faithful practice, from conversion to joy and gentleness, Bible reading to prayer, good works to pining for heaven, showing that all of these are inspired in the hearts of true Christians by the beauty of the divine in the Godhead and the world.

Ortlund is a friend, as are the editors of the series in which this book takes its place (Stephen Nichols and Justin Taylor). We consulted on its contents, so I’d better keep things short in the name of fair play.

I’ll conclude with my endorsement, printed on the book itself:  “The supreme value of reading Edwards is that we are ushered into a universe brimming with beauty,” writes Ortlund (p. 15). I couldn’t agree more. And one would be hard-pressed to find a more engaging introduction to this universe for the church. Even the final chapter, on ways in which we should not follow Edwards (pp, 177-92), offers crucial Christian wisdom. Ortlund’s criticisms of Edwards hit the mark—and deserve consideration by Edwards’s growing number of fans. I plan to use them with my seminary students in years to come. Please peruse this beautiful book. It’s good for the soul.

Highly recommended for those who want an explicitly Christian reading of Edwards aimed at spiritual edification.

JEC-TEDS Sponsors Grad Student Paper Competition

The Jonathan Edwards Center at Trinity ( is pleased to announce the inauguration of an annual paper competition for graduate students. Papers must focus on Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), his contexts, or his legacies, and must be written mainly in English. They may be submitted, however, by graduate students from anywhere, working in any major academic discipline. Each year’s winner will receive a cash prize of $500 (U.S.) and guaranteed publication in Jonathan Edwards Studies. Submissions are due by May 15 of each year. The winners will be announced by August 1.

Further details may be found below, or in the downloadable flyer link. Please share this announcement with your colleagues. Queries and submissions should be directed to Professor Douglas A. Sweeney (

Happy writing, and good luck!





  • All full- and part-time graduate students from anywhere in the world are eligible to participate.
  • Papers must focus on Jonathan Edwards, his contexts, or his legacies.
  • Papers must be original, and not pledged elsewhere.



  • Papers should be of superior, publishable quality, and should follow the Author Guidelines published in Jonathan Edwards Studies, available at:
  • Papers must be written in English.
  • Papers must be readable in Microsoft Word.
  • Papers must be received no later than May 15.



  • Cash prize of $500 (U.S.)
  • Guaranteed publication in Jonathan Edwards Studies.
  • The winner will be announced on August 1.


Papers will be assessed by a committee led by Professor Douglas A. Sweeney, Director, Jonathan Edwards Center at TEDS, and including the other global Jonathan Edwards Center directors.

Please direct queries and submissions to Doug Sweeney (