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Sweeney’s Booknotes: A Theology of Joy

Matthew V. Everhard, A Theology of Joy: Jonathan Edwards and Eternal Happiness in the Holy Trinity (n.p.: JESociety Press, 2018).

everhard_theology_of_joyThis new release from Dr. Robert Boss’s JESociety (http://www.jesociety.org/) is a revised version of Everhard’s Doctor of Ministry project at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando.

The Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Florida, the author is no stranger to the study of Jonathan Edwards. Less than two years ago, he and Boss produced a volume of helpful essays on Edwards with the JESociety Press. Everhard also shepherds edwardsstudies.com. He likes to emphasize the usefulness of Edwards to Christians.

The current volume tells the story of its author’s quest for joy in everyday life and pastoral ministry, which was completed with a little bit of help from John Piper and the writings of Edwards and others (especially Augustine and Calvin). It also sets forth an Edwardsean theology of joy. In Everhard’s words, “this book does not attempt to mine new territory or to discover new theological motifs that have never been discussed more competently in other places. As limited as the topic of joy is, this short book does not attempt to be theologically novel or particularly original. On the contrary, this book will merely attempt to summarize a few of the major themes related to joy that can be found in the writings of the Puritan, Jonathan Edwards” (p. 9).

A Theology of Joy includes ten main chapters, an introduction and a conclusion. After doing some of his own Edwards-style exegesis, the author gathers fruit from some of Edwards’ best-known writings, most importantly—though certainly only—Religious Affectionsand his series on the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (based on Matthew 25), published as True and False Christians by Ken Minkema, Adriaan Neele, and Bryan McCarthy in a series of Edwards’ sermons on the Matthean parables. Then Everhard applies Edwards on joy to pastoral ministry.

“Perhaps the most important things that Edwards has taught me in my research on his theology of joy,” Rev. Everhard concludes, “can be reduced to two simple truths. First, I must guard jealously the joy that I have as a pastor and as a redeemed sinner in the Lord Jesus Christ. Although there are many threats and counterfeits, there truly is no joy that can replace that which I have in God’s Trinitarian work of redemption. Secondly, as a pastor, I must prepare my people for death by relentlessly showing them the temporality of this world (as beautiful as it is) and causing them to set their gaze forward, on the eternal joys that are to come in eternity in the ‘joy of thy lord’ (Matthew 25:21)” (p. 203).

More power to Boss, Everhard and several other pastors reviewed here in the past few years making Edwards more accessible and useful in the churches.

Sweeney’s Booknotes: A Treatise on Jonathan Edwards, Continuous Creation and Christology

Mark Hamilton, A Treatise on Jonathan Edwards, Continuous Creation and Christology, A Series of Treatises on Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1 (n.p.: JESociety Press, 2017).

hamiltoncover-web1This is the first book in a series “given exclusively to the select publication of cutting-edge research” on Jonathan Edwards’ life and thought (unpaginated front matter) by the JESociety (http://www.jesociety.org/), an organization we discussed last summer in our annual magazine, Edwardseana.

Its author, Mark Hamilton, is a Ph.D. candidate at the Free University of Amsterdam, as well as a regular participant in events here at the Center. He is a co-editor of Idealism and Christian Theology (Bloomsbury, 2016), and the author of several articles and other publications treating Edwards and his philosophical sources.

In this short essay (about a hundred pages in length), he addresses a rather controversial cluster of Edwards’ doctrines regarding God, creation, and Christology. Taking to task those who claim that Edwards’ handling of these doctrines verges on the incoherent and/or places Edwards beyond the pale of classical Christian orthodoxy, Hamilton contends “for the coherence of both Edwards’ doctrine of continuous creation as well as what [he refers] to as Edwards’ Continuous Christology” (pp. 10-11), rehabilitating Edwards’ reputation as a resource for constructive but traditional Christian thinkers.

As I have noted in an endorsement that is printed in the book, “this is the best attempt to date to systematize the nexus of comments found mainly in Edwards’ notebooks on the relationship of ontology, etiology, and Christology. It represents an advance on the account of Hamilton’s brilliant teacher, Oliver D. Crisp, one on which analytical minds will noodle for many years to come. I recommend it strongly, and find its arguments for what Hamilton calls Edwards’ ‘immaterial realism’ compelling.”

This book is aimed mainly at philosophical theologians, but its author is one to watch by anyone interested in Edwards and his place in Christian intellectual history.

“The Miscellanies Project”: A Call for Contributors

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The Jonathan Edwards Society is extending a call for contributors to The Miscellanies Project and Reader. Deadline for topic submission is Dec 1, 2017. Details about the project and signup are available at http://www.jesociety.org/project/.

 

 

Journal Issue #3 Fall 2017

Enjoy this year’s issue of Edwardseana Journal. The third edition of Edwardseana features two Books of the Year, written by Philip Fisk and Douglas Winiarski, a feature article about the JESociety, and more. Learn more in this third installment.