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Sweeney Booknotes: John Gerstner’s Rational Biblical Theology of Jonathan Edwards

W. Gary Crampton, Interpreting Edwards: An Overview and Analysis of John H. Gerstner’s The Rational Biblical Theology of Jonathan Edwards (Lakeland, FL: Whitefield Theological Seminary, 2010).

Fans of the late John Gerstner (1914-1996) will want to know about this book. It offers a summary of Gerstner’s massive, three-volume set, The Rational Biblical Theology of Jonathan Edwards (1991-1993), updated with helpful references to more recent Edwards scholarship.

Younger readers may need to know that Gerstner played a major role in fueling the Edwards renaissance and making its scholarly fruit accessible to evangelical Christians. He promoted Edwards’ writings with hundreds of pastors, seminarians, and evangelical laity, devoted his summers to poring over Edwards’ manuscripts at Yale, and published several widely influential books on Edwards’ thought. He also made disciples (of both Edwards and himself), most importantly R. C. Sproul (b. 1939), who founded Ligonier Ministries in the early 1970s near Gerstner’s home in western Pennsylvania.

Like Gerstner and Sproul, Gary Crampton and Whitefield Theological Seminary are cut from Edwardsean cloth. Theirs is a “truly Reformed” Edwards, tailored for evangelical Calvinists. They have not paid much attention to Edwards’ non-Reformed influences and non-Reformed legacies. But they have done more than anyone (except perhaps Iain Murray) to create a demand for Edwards among the people who are most eager to pattern their lives after his.

This is clearly a labor of love. Recommended for all who follow, or would simply like to know about, Gerstner’s Edwards.

–By Douglas Sweeney, Director of the JEC at TEDS