Thursday, July 12, 2018

Book Review - The Essential Jonathan Edwards


You've heard his name, you've probably heard your pastor quote him, but who is he really?

250 years later, Jonathan Edwards, America's consummate pastor-theologian, continues to capture the attention of Christians around the world. Yet Edwards left us over 1,200 sermons and thousands of pages of other publications, not to mention the literal thousands of books that have been written about Edwards since he died. Where does one even begin? That's why we created The Essential Jonathan Edwards. It serves as a perfect introduction to Edwards's life and thought. It explores Edwards day-to-day life, and his views on beauty, true Christianity, heaven and hell, and the good life. Strachan and Sweeney strike the perfect balance between necessary background information and giving Edwards's own works room to speak.

Whether you're an Edwards fan already or only know Edwards because of “that Angry God sermon,” this book will lead you to drink deeply of Scripture and gaze longingly at God.


DOUGLAS A. SWEENEY is Professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought and Director of the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He formerly served at Yale University, where he edited The Works of Jonathan Edwards and served as a lecturer in church history and historical theology. Sweeney has also served as an adjunct professor at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee, and a visiting professor for both Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Sweeney is the author of a number of books and articles about religious history and the American theologian, Jonathan Edwards. Some of the titles to which he has contributed include The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader, The New England Theology: From Jonathan Edwards to Edwards Amasa Park, The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movement, Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards, and Jonathan Edwards at Home and Abroad: Historical Memories, Cultural Movements, Global Horizons, among others.

Sweeney received the Doctor of Philosophy and the Master of Arts in Religion from Vanderbilt University, the Master of Arts in the History of Christian Thought from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and the Bachelor of Arts in History from Wheaton College. He belongs to numerous professional organizations, including the American Society of Church History, which he serves as a member of the Committee on Research. He is currently President of the Conference on Faith and History. He is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the Jonathan Edwards Research Fellowship, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Dr. Sweeney resides with his wife, Wilma, and their son in Lindenhurst, Illinois.

OWEN STRACHAN is Associate Professor of Christian Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the Director for the Center on Public Theology at MBTS. He holds a PhD from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, an MDiv from Southern Seminary, and an AB from Bowdoin College. Strachan has published fourteen books and writes regularly for The Gospel Coalition, the Christian Post, and Thoughtlife, his Patheos blog. He is married and is the father of three children. Strachan hosts the City of God podcast available at


Like many of you, I had heard of Jonathan Edwards and had read some of his writings. However, I knew nothing, really, about the man or how profound his belief in God and the Scriptures was.

This is a big book - 428 pages - and sometimes you can start into something like this wondering if it will hold your attention all the way through. Have no fear - this is a wonderful page turner that never is dry or boring. It starts off telling us about Jonathan's family and how he basically became the type of man he became because of the faithful family he had. His education was amazing and he strove to be well educated while still being faithful to God.

This book is divided into five parts: Love of God, Beauty, The Good Life, True Christianity, and finally, Heaven and Hell. The first section lets us get to know Jonathan Edwards from his youth to his death and then the rest focuses on his sermons and writings about each subject. The beauty of this is that we get to know the man before we start reading his writings.

Another thing I absolutely love about this book is at the end of each short chapter, there is a section devoted to living more like Edwards. This brings everything you've read concisely into an understanding of how you can live a more godly life. This was really helpful in my understanding of what I had just read.

Jonathan Edwards writings is beautiful and not at all dry as you might thing considering the era that he was living. The authors of this book, too, write beautifully and draw you into Jonathan Edwards life and his way of living for Jesus.

This is a wonderful book that, I believe, every Christian should read. It will enrich your understanding of who God is and what it means to live a life in spiritual abundance through Jesus. I highly recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars. (I would give it more if I could!)

*This book was provided to me for my honest review by Moody Publishers

Blesings - Julie

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