This privately published set of essays is “an experiment,” writes the Rev. Matthew Everhard at the outset of the volume. “Each of the contributors to this collection of essays has provided a unique, thoroughly researched, article pertaining to the life, times, or thought” of the sage of Northampton. And “as each writer comes from a different background and perspective—some of us are pastors, others are still students, still others professional theologians—we each have something unique to say about Edwards” (p. 1). Indeed. This project is a delight. All of its essays are well written. All are penned by ecclesially-oriented Reformed Christians (Presbyterians and Baptists). And all find something important to commend, albeit critically, regarding Edwards’ work.
A product of the innovative Jonathan Edwards Society, a brainchild of this volume’s co-editor, Robert Boss (http://www.jesociety.org/), the book is beautifully designed, replete with 19 different figures (i.e. illustrations), and features a wide range of topics in Edwards studies.
My favorites were the essays by Sarah Boss, Rob’s daughter and a recent college graduate, who contributed a lovely piece on “Edwards and Thoreau: Typologies of Lakes”; and Chris Woznicki, the son of immigrants from Poland and Guatemala, who asks a question based on the work of Robert Jenson (a well-known Lutheran theologian), “Jonathan Edwards: America’s Theologian? A Latino Evaluation of Jonathan Edwards’s Harmartiology.” Other readers will surely find different chapters to love.
Here’s the volume’s table of contents:
- “Introduction,” by Matthew Everhard (Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, FL)
- “Jonathan Edwards: A Biographical Sketch,” by J. T. Holderman (Senior Pastor of Bellevue Presbyterian Church in Gap, PA)
- “Edwards and Thoreau: Typologies of Lakes,” by Sarah Boss (a recent Wheaton College graduate)
- “Jonathan Edwards: Calvinistic Homeboy or Reformed Eccentric?,” by Matthew Everhard (see identification above)
- “Did Jonathan Edwards Help Inspire the Modern Missionary Movement?,” by Obbie Tyler Todd (Associate Pastor of Students at Zoar Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, LA)
- “Jonathan Edwards and the Silkworm: Preaching and Typology,” by Matthew Everhard (see identification above)
- “Jonathan Edwards and the Relationship between Habit and Practice in Christian Experience,” by David Luke (Director of Postgraduate Studies at the Irish Baptist College, County Down, Northern Ireland)
- “Jonathan Edwards and Ratiocination: An Eternal Journey into the Discovery of God and Truth,” by Toby K. Easley (itinerant preacher, author, and theologian)
- “Jonathan Edwards: America’s Theologian? A Latino Evaluation of Jonathan Edwards’s Harmartiology,” by Chris Woznicki (PhD student in systematic theology, Fuller Theological Seminary)
- “A Glimpse of the Brave New World of Discordant Voices into Which Jonathan Edwards Was Born,” by Jonathan S. Marko (Assistant Professor of Philosophical and Systematic Theology, Cornerstone University)
- “Jonathan Edwards and Caring for the Book of Nature,” by Robert Boss (sometime pastor, author, and theologian)
- “Jonathan Edwards through the Eyes of His Children,” by Zachary Hopkins (Pastor/Teaching Elder, Edgington Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Taylor Ridge, IL)
I share the editors’ hope “that this volume will not be alone, but will be followed by other publishing ventures that focus on Edwards, while simultaneously providing a voice to the rising generation of Edwards scholars” (p. 1). If these first fruits of their labors are a reliable indicator, such future publishing ventures will offer an edifying showcase for original work on Edwards by ecclesial theologians.
Many thanks to the members of the Jonathan Edwards Society for this promising publication.