Monday, February 9, 2009

Book Review: Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George M. Marsden

Jonathan Edwards: A Life is no trivial account of arguably one of North America's greatest theologians. It is not a trifle. It is a serious in-depth look into the life of one of Christianity's and philosophy's great thinkers. But it is more than just a look at Edwards. Rather, it is also an examination of New England in the 1700s.

In this book, Marsden covers Edwards through the many roles he lived out: child, husband, friend, mentor, father, student, theologian, pastor, preacher, author, philosopher, teacher, administrator, and believer. In doing so we get more than a glimpse of Edward's family and friends, his upbringing, his education, his lifestyle, his ministry, his leisure pursuits, and his personal life. This was a fascinating individual whose life both intrigues and illuminates many Christians. Marsden covers so many facets of Edward's life that one really gets a well-rounded sense about the man.

Marsden does not look at Edwards in isolation but considers him in the context of his surroundings; 18th century New England. We follow Edwards and his family through their social spheres, through political intrigue, in church controversies and awakenings, around science and philosophy debates, through world affairs, and every other aspect of 1700s society. It is a biography to be sure but it is also a history lesson.

Most importantly for me, Marsden considers Edwards' theology, preaching, pastoring, beliefs, writings, and philosophies. Marsden does not focus on these, but he certainly gives you enough of a taste to begin to understand why Christianity has held Edwards in such high regard.

If you want only a taste of Edwards, perhaps a less thorough rendering of his life would be in order. But if one wanted a feast of Edwards, with appetizers, many courses, and dessert then Marsden's Jonathan Edwards: A Life should be chosen from the menu. Definitely recommended.

No comments:

Post a Comment