Lawson, Steven J. The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards. Lake Mary, FL.: Reformation Trust, 2008. xvi + 168 pp. $16.00
The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards is the second in Lawson’s “A Long Line of Godly Men Profile,” series. In this edition, Lawson follows what is clearly one of the most influential theologians of the Reformation (John Calvin) with Jonathan Edwards, who “is still widely regarded as the most distinguished minister ever to grace the American church” (1). And while students of history may recognize him as the hellfire and damnation prophet they read about in history books as they study “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Lawson presents another, broader portrait of Edwards.
Though Jonathan Edwards “was intellectually brilliant and theologically commanding, his true greatness lay in his indefatigable zeal for the glory of God” (4). Thus, in this volume Lawson leads the reader to a better understanding of the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards, using Edwards’ own diaries and Miscellanies as helps along the way. These resolutions would show themselves to be Edwards’ “spiritual compass,” throughout his life, and the earnestness with which he sought to fulfill them is laid before the reader as a wonderful example to emulate.
The amazing aspect of these Resolutions is that they were written at a very young age. They were written, likely, during the end of his master’s degree studies at Yale, throughout his term as an interim pastor in New York City, and, “then during a brief stay at home prior to receiving his master’s degree in September 1723” (29). During Edwards’ transition between boy and man – during a time that many opt to exhaust all remaining desires for boyhood – Edwards laid the course for his pursuit of holiness for the entirety of his life. This in and of itself is fascinating.
Lawson then guides the reader to understanding the nature of these Resolutions, by helping display the relations between each various point and encouraging the reader to take upon themselves the practice of such a pursuit. The bulk of the book a sort of commentary on the Resolutions, and reveals aspects of Edwards that may be less than obvious to the student who merely reads his seminal sermon and moves on dismissively.
While those who read of Edwards Resolutions may find themselves unable to relate to a figure so fully enveloped in his devotion to God, Edwards diaries reveal the humanity of “America’s Theologian.” His diaries show his struggle with doubts of his salvation, his struggle to be peaceable and patient, and his struggle with the discipline that so characterized his life. Lawson masterfully weaves the diaries and Resolutions together to form a more developed picture of Edwards, rather than the flat, two-dimensional puritanical prophet.
This is a fantastic introduction to Jonathan Edwards and his Resolutions.
Steven J. Lawson, The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards
I received this book free from the publisher through the Reformation Trust book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.