Friday, September 30, 2011

A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards

A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George M. Marsden as reviewed by Paul Simpson. Mr. Marsden does give a concise account of Jonathan Edwards in eight simple chapters. He does not dwell on a lot of details but gives a very epic picture of this profound man although he lived a relatively short life. Each section of Edwards life is crisscrossed with the lives of many contemporaries of that day.
As we journey along Mr. Edwards life we are met along the path by several men of renown - Benjamin Franklin, Increase Mather, George Whitefield, David Brainerd and many others. We aren’t just told that Johnathan met these famous men, but we are given a glimpse of how his life intersected with theirs. Quite often we are taken down a quick side trail describing this persons pedigree and their most notable contributions to Christianity and humanity.
Of most prominence is Benjamin Franklin. The author interweaves Franklin and Edwards life throughout the book. This does two things: first, we are given a time line that most students of American history are familiar with but will help those less familiar with history and secondly, the author describes the two men as polar opposities. Both men could not have been more opposite when it came to biblical Christianity - Edwards who was clearly born again and a minister of Jesus Christ and Franklin, a good and moral man, a deist by all accounts, but not born again. The juxtaposed views of these men, one with a heavenly viewpoint and the other with a human viewpoint paints a vivid picture of America at that time. He notes that although Ben Franklin was his contemporary and one of the architects of America’s national awakening Edwards was the prime mover in New Englands spiritual awakening.

I actually did not read this book but listened to it on audio CD. The narrator Grover Gardner has a wonderful English accent which only enhances the listening.I received it as a gift from The Shepherds Fellowship, a Pastor’s conference held each year in Sun Valley, CA and hosted by Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Bible Church.

If one wants to know more about the life of Jonathan Edwards I believe A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George M. Marsden would make an excellent start.

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