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Posts Tagged ‘kenneth minkema’

Sweeney’s Booknotes: Jonathan Edwards Defending the Great Awakening

Robert Davis Smart, Jonathan Edwards’s Apologetic for the Great Awakening, with Particular Attention to Charles Chauncy’s Criticisms (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2011).

As I suggest in my endorsement on the back of this book, it offers the wisest, most extensive interpretation of the Edwards-Chauncy debate ever written.

Bob is a friend. He serves as the senior pastor of Christ Church (PCA) in Bloomington (IL) and he teaches and preaches widely as a pastor-theologian. His book began as a dissertation at the Wales Evangelical School of Theology (associated with the University of Wales, Lampeter; now the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David). It includes an insightful foreword written by Kenneth P. Minkema of Yale University (who will be teaching another J-term course at Trinity this year). And as Ken confirms therein, it offers “the first sustained effort devoted to considering the points of debate between Chauncy and Edwards”–the well-known leaders of the “Old Light” and “New Light” parties (respectively) at the height of the Great Awakening–“and to understanding them contextually, hermeneutically, and constructively” (p. ix).

The sum and substance of this book is a treatment of the controversy that swirled around the question whether New England’s great revivals were a work of the Holy Spirit. As a work of reception history, it is unparalleled in scope and attention to detail. Employing tools from social science, social history, and theology, Smart explains the terms of debate, shows how Edwards and his critics disagreed with one another, and offers an even-handed assessment of the legacies of their conflict from the 1740s and 50s to the present.

I recommend this learned work to anyone interested in the history of revivals in America—but especially to those with an interest in the pneumatological questions most important to Edwards himself, and to his heirs.

–By Douglas Sweeney, Director of the JEC at TEDS

JESociety 2010 Conference, Oct 1-3

The Jonathan Edwards Society conference was mentioned earlier on this blog. The updated program schedule is now available at‑2010‑conference‑program/.

The conference, on the theme of “Jonathan Edwards for the New Millennium,” is sponsored jointly by the Jonathan Edwards Society and the Edwin Mellen Press, to take place in Northampton, Massachusetts on October 1-3, 2010. Featured speakers include Gerald McDermott and Michael McClymond, who will discuss their current joint work, a 46-chapter comprehensive study of Jonathan Edwards’s theology, soon to be published by Oxford University Press. Avihu Zakai will also present a lecture on Jonathan Edwards’s philosophy of nature which coincides with his latest book published this summer. Other speakers include Kenneth Minkema, Herbert Richardson, Oliver Crisp, Robert King and many others.

For more details on this exciting conference, see the full program.

Sweeney’s BookNotes: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Casebook

Jonathan Edwards’s Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God: A Casebook, ed. Wilson H. Kimnach, Caleb J. D. Maskell, and Kenneth P. Minkema (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010)

At long last, this masterful teaching aid is here. The editors have reproduced the definitive edition of this most famous Edwards sermon along with a host of study helps: an historical and literary introduction to “Sinners” (by Kimnach); a theological primer on the themes within the sermon (by Maskell); a dozen companion texts by Edwards himself that place it in context; five contemporary documents that testify to the power of the sermon and/or the revivals of the so-called Great Awakening; and sixteen interpretations of Edwards and his doctrine, including fascinating comments by a wide array of readers, both friends and foes alike, such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, Robert Lowell, Perry Miller, Billy Graham, and Marilyn Robinson. Appended to the book are a brief chronology of Edwards’ life, a glossary of names and terms, discussion questions, web resources, a handy bibliography, and even a list of audio productions of the sermon.

This is an ideal teaching tool. I recommend it strongly for high school teachers, home schoolers, Sunday school teachers, and college professors–at Christian or secular schools–anyone who wants to teach “Sinners” with excellence, helping students understand what Edwards was actually trying to do by preaching this frightening, classic, and spiritually powerful sermon.

Can anyone remember the biblical text on which it was based (without checking!)? How about the alternate text for the sermon in the Psalms?

–By Douglas Sweeney, Director of the JEC at TEDS