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Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God Paperback – Aug. 31 2014
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Offering readers an accessible portrait of Jonathan Edwards’s life and theology, this book highlights the central role of beauty in his understanding of the Christian life.
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More Books in the Theologians on the Christian Life Series from Crossway
This series provides accessible introductions to some of church history’s greatest teachers—exploring their personal lives and writings, especially as they pertain to the walk of faith—and offers readers wisdom from the past for life in the present.
“In his theological concern for the beautiful and the beauty of God, Jonathan Edwards stands at the end of a long theological tradition that reaches back to Augustine and beyond, even to the Scriptures themselves. In the last two centuries, however, this area of theological inquiry seems to have dropped off the radar for Christian theologians and practitioners, which may explain why students of Edwards’s corpus of writings have not tackled the subject. Ortlund’s study nicely fills this lacuna, for he rightly shows, from a multitude of angles, that beauty is the fulcrum of Edwards’s thinking. A joy to read and to ponder!”
―Michael A. G. Haykin, Chair and Professor of Church History, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Jonathan Edwards is widely known as a hellfire-and-brimstone preacher. Serious students, like Dane Ortlund, have long known he was much more. In this book Ortlund puts his careful research to good purpose as he demonstrates convincingly that the center of Edwards’s concern was always and supremely beauty―in God, from God, and for God. Grateful readers will find this book highly informative on Edwards and deeply encouraging for the Christian life today.”
―Mark A. Noll, author, Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind
“No one has taught me more about the dynamics of Christian living than has Jonathan Edwards. And no one has more clearly articulated the role of beauty in Edwards’s understanding of the Christian life than has Dane Ortlund. If you’re unfamiliar with Edwards, or if you wonder how beauty could possibly have any lasting effect in your growth as a Christian, this book is for you.”
―Sam Storms, Senior Pastor, Bridgeway Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
“What a delight to see a book on Edwards’s conception of the Christian life. And how beautiful it is that it depicts the Christian life as ordered by and to the beauty of God. This book will help strengthen the fertilization of today’s churches by Edwards’s vision of God’s triune beauty.”
―Gerald R. McDermott, Former Anglican Chair of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School
“‘The supreme value of reading Edwards is that we are ushered into a universe brimming with beauty,’ writes Ortlund. I couldn’t agree more. And one would be hard-pressed to find a more engaging introduction to this universe for the church. Even the final chapter, on ways in which we should not follow Edwards, offers crucial Christian wisdom. Ortlund’s criticisms of Edwards hit the mark―and deserve consideration by Edwards’s growing number of fans. I plan to use them with my seminary students in years to come. Please peruse this beautiful book. It’s good for the soul.”
―Douglas A. Sweeney, Dean, Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School
“Edwards is profound, and this book breaks down the complexity into manageable portions around the theme of beauty, thus engaging readers in a fresh vision of the importance of Edwards’s theology to contemporary living.”
―Josh Moody, Senior Pastor, College Church, Wheaton, Illinois; author, Journey to Joy: The Psalms of Ascent
About the Author
Dane C. Ortlund (PhD, Wheaton College) serves as senior pastor of Naperville Presbyterian Church in Naperville, Illinois. He is the author of Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers and Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners. Dane and his wife, Stacey, have five children.
Stephen J. Nichols (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) serves as the president of Reformation Bible College and chief academic officer of Ligonier Ministries. He has written over twenty books and is an editor of the Theologians on the Christian Life series. He also hosts the weekly podcast 5 Minutes in Church History.
Justin Taylor (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher at Crossway. He has edited and contributed to several books, including A God-Entranced Vision of All Things and Reclaiming the Center, and he blogs at Between Two Worlds―hosted by the Gospel Coalition.
- Publisher : Crossway (Aug. 31 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 143353505X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1433535055
- Item weight : 295 g
- Dimensions : 15.24 x 1.37 x 22.86 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #346,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ich verfolge Dane Ortlund schon länger via seinen Blog. Er hat in Wheaton promoviert und arbeitet selbst beim Verlagshaus Crossway. Man merkt seiner Sprache und seinem Denken an, dass er zur jungen Autorengeneration gehört. Die Beispiele und Bezüge sind aktuell, die Sprache schnörkellos. Bei Ortlund fällt mir ausserdem seine Gabe zur didaktischen Vereinfachung auf. Angemessen zu vereinfachen ist eine Kunst. Man muss zuvor den Stoff überblicken und ihn verdichtet haben.
„Schönheit ist das überragende und integrierende Thema in Edwards Schaffen.“ Mit dieser Massgabe zieht Ortlund los. “Das christliche Leben besteht darin, die Schönheit zu geniessen und widerzuspiegeln.” Alles, was Edwards zum christlichen Leben geschrieben habe, münde in diesen Strom ein. Die 13 Kapitel sind so schön angeordnet, dass es sich lohnt, sie kurz aufzuführen.
Schönheit als organisierendes Thema von Edwards Theologie; neue Geburt – die Entzündung des christlichen Lebens; Liebe, seine Essenz; Freude, sein Kraftstoff; Freundlichkeit, sein Aroma; die Heilige Schrift, sein Schatz; Gebet, sein Gemeinschaft; Pilgerschaft, sein Geschmack; Gehorsam, seine Frucht; Satan, sein Feind; die Seele, sein grosses Anliegen; Himmel, seine Hoffnung. Jedes Kapitel ist in mehrere Unterkapitel aufgeteilt und wird knapp zusammengefasst.
Nochmals ein kurzer Durchgang, hier in einigen erklärenden Sätzen: Sünder werden durch die Wiedergeburt verschönert, indem sie der Schönheit Gottes in Christus teilhaftig werden. Demütige Liebe ist das absolute Markenzeichen des neuen Lebens, Freundlichkeit die Disposition des Herzens. Darin eingeschlossen ist eine ruhige Kraft. Die Schrift wird verinnerlicht, wie es in Edwards Leben selbst zum Ausdruck kam: Seine Worte waren gefüllt mit den Aussagen der Bibel. Durch das Gebet wird die Schönheit Gottes erhoben. Das Bewusstsein ist mit dem Bewusstsein getränkt, sich in diesem Leben (noch) im Exil zu befinden. Gehorsam ist der Antrieb, welcher der Liebe entspringt, die Seele das Organ der Schönheit, auf das wir achtgeben.
Besonders ansprechend fand ich das letzte, 13. Kapitel. Es ist ein behutsames Herantasten an Ungleichgewichte in Edwards Theologie. Er verfehlte wohl den Aspekt, dass die Erlösung wiederherstellend wirkt. Ebenso pflegte er eine zu negative Sicht des unerlösten und eine zu positive des erlösten Menschen. Ein ideales Korrektiv ist deshalb, wie Ortlund zu Recht anmerkt, der niederländische Theologe Herman Bavinck (1854-1921).
Fazit: Ortlund hat - wie ich aus - ausgiebig C. S. Lewis gelesen. Darum: “Edwards nimmt uns mit durch den Wandschrank nach Narnia. Uns wird durch Edwards eine (neue) Brille gegeben; keine Sonnenbrille, die alles abdunkelt. Im Gegenteil: Linsen, die alles erhellen.“ Und: Edwards sprach viel mehr über die Freuden des Himmels als den Horrer der Hölle. Für eine Einführung in Edwards Werk kann ich das Buch nur empfehlen.
The author successfully achieves his goal by directing readers to twelve questions which capture the essence of Edward's God-entranced worldview. Consequently, the following themes emerge:Beauty, new birth, love, joy, gentleness, the Bible, prayer, pilgrimage, obedience, Satan, the soul, and heaven.
Each theme is surveyed from the perspective of Jonathan Edwards. Historical highlights are included in order to provide a much-needed perspective and many primary sources are cited. For the scores of people who believe that God's wrath is Edwards's controlling attribute, Ortlund provides a necessary corrective: "Not sovereignty, not wrath, not grace, not omniscience, not eternity, but beauty is what more than anything else defines God's very divinity. Edwards clearly believed in these other truths about God and saw all of them as upholding and displaying and connected to God's beauty. Yet none of them expresses who God is in the way that beauty does."
Ortlund beautifully captures the theology of Edwards in this rather short volume. The work is accessible to a wide range of people but never at the expense of solid content. Of the multitude of secondary source books which explore the theology of Jonathan Edwards, Ortlund's work is among the best.
Despite, the high praise offered above, I must take exception with one of Ortlund's statements which takes aim at Steven J. Lawson's book, The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards. Ortlund charges Lawson of "succumbing to hagiography regarding Edwards." Clearly, Ortlund has missed the intent of the Long Line of Godly Men Series where pivotal figures in church history are introduced and commended as pillars of the Christian faith. Anyone familiar with Steven Lawson understands his chagrin with the postmillennialism and paedobaptism that emerge in the Northampton preacher. But the series is merely designed as an introduction to these pivotal figures, not a detailed exposition. Taken seriously, Ortlund's accusation should cast a dark shadow over every biographical account of figures in church history.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Ortlund's book is his criticism which he directs toward Jonathan Edwards himself. The criticism here is rightly placed and balanced. His critique is timely and alerts students of Edwards to weaknesses in his theological infrastructure.
Edwards on the Christian Life is a well written book which should provide ample discussion for anyone interested in America's greatest intellectual. The brief criticism noted above does not marginalize any of the rest of the book.
Edwards helped countless people in his day and beyond to behold the glory and beauty of God. Though, for most, wading into the sea of books and sermons by Edwards would be too much to begin with. In this book, you’ll get a quick glimpse of the framework of how the beauty of God shaped Edwards’ view and teaching on issues such as regeneration, justification, sanctification, prayer, the pilgrimage of the Christian life, spiritual warfare, the primacy of our souls, and our eternal hope of heaven with God.
One thing I really appreciated from this book was the final chapter which addresses four Criticisms of Edwards and his teachings. Clearly Ortlund has a deep respect and love for Edwards, yet he is able to see some of the blind spots in Edwards life (which is not always the case for biographers). Perhaps most notably, how Edwards could learn from some in our current generation with their emphasis on the continued need for the gospel in the life of the believer.
Finally, those familiar with John Piper, his works, and his theological emphasis, probably already know that he has learned much about the beauty of God from the works of Edwards. As you read this book, you’ll recognize many of the same choruses that Piper so often sings.
Having read and profited greatly from Edwards, alongside the earlier Puritans, as a late teen and thereafter, Ortlund's incisive critiques resonate with my experience of striving to attaining scriptural balance inthe areas of: applying the gospel (I too found Thomas Chalmers, C S Lewis' and M'Cheynne's advice much more true to Scripture); the goodness of creation; use of scripture; and views of the regenerate/ unregerate.
As we see a resurgence in a biblical "Calvinism," these areas will no doubt also be areas of struggle for other followers of Jesus seeking to be true to Scripture.