Saturday, September 24, 2005

Jonathan Edwards.

I love the man. His philosophical and engaging mind, his pleasantly romantic and long-winded writings, his brutality in delivering sermons of repentance in which all of these, were the radiance of his deep consciousness of his love, reverence and fear for God.

He made reading difficult, yet made no apologies to his readers for having to spend substantially more time in understanding his studies. He is uncompromising, having instilled the highest level of discipline in his discourse of understanding Scriptures. He is perhaps to some, an abomination to simplicity; a subject of interest to only the high and lofty, an intimidation to this generation of Christian men and women; yet, one must come to realization that this same man, also preached to the Indians of America- the least of the least among the uneducated, as well as congregations of scholars, thinkers and future pastors of his time.

One who reads him is no greater than one who doesn’t, yet I find it such a pity that Christians of this century take him for granted, opting for a diluted version of theology, which brings only disillusionment and self-sufficiency in their understanding of Scriptures. However, I must admit that one doesn’t read him without much struggling and wrestling- not only to understand him, but also wrestling with the entire point of dwelling in sacred intellectual. One would risk succumbing to the two extremes in attempts of understanding his philosophically-laden reflections- by turning into an intellectual snob or being put off by the sense of detachment from the world, that grows deeper upon each immense reading session. There is a fine line drawn between these two, and one is as what Edwards had once said, “hung by a thread at the mercy of God”.

A fresh reading of Edwards brought me back from edging too near that cliff. Having withdrawn from him for some time, I was acquainted to his theological reflections once again just recently. What is most glaringly important, is his firm assertion in the authority of Scriptures than being merely attracted to what great theologians, him included; had to say. “Be assiduous in reading the Holy Scriptures. This is the fountain whence all knowledge in divinity must be derived. Therefore let not this treasure lie by you neglected.”

Yet, having the ultimate regards for the Bible is not legalistic in nature, nor are we to be stoic about it. He wrote, “Sometimes, on fair days I find myself more particularly disposed to regard the glories of the world than to betake myself to the study of serious religion.”

He lived with strictest measures – “Resolved: Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.” “Resolved: To live with all my might while I do live.” Thus, he left behind a legacy of Christian faith so strong that it outlasted him by centuries and made me ponder on my complacency.

I don’t claim to have fully understood or understood at all, any of his treatises, sermons, and deep philosophies on freedom of will, Trinity and religious affections. I would require repetitive readings over my lifetime, possibly even more; to do that. Perhaps, when I see him in Heaven, I would have an opportunity to meet the man himself and to hear in his own words and voice, the wonderful teaching about God being most glorified when we seek pleasure in Him. Yet, I was already pleasantly in awe that a pastor who led the Great Awakening almost 300 years ago would once again awake me from my own spiritual slumber today.


Blogger The Hedonese said...

Yea, girl, u said it! hehe..

Edwards is a spiritual giant who combines red-hot 'affection' with a rigorous mind tat no other puritan cud match, besides John Owen (some said)

He probably din purposely make it hard for people to understand... Edwin Tay told me in those days, people study latin and were especially meticulous to lay out their thots in orderly way, looking at it from different angles, and say almost all tat can be said abt it before going on...

in other words, they can be 'cheong hei' hehehe...

But no panic, a more user-friendly entry point to Edwards is his 'tou dai's - John Piper

Again, the more adventurous folks may just jump in and read the man himself here

9:52 AM  
Blogger jacksons said...

Wow! Edwards! I have never really taken the time to wrestle with the cultural, conceptual and language gaps that separate me from understanding him – but I hope to in time. First I have to finish Augustine and Calvin. But this much I know, anyone that is great to John Piper must be great! But I have always enjoyed the preaching of the Puritans (I classify Edwards as a Puritan too) – the sheer Biblical categories and illustrations they use, the mapping of themes in the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, the conviction and the participation they force on us the reader (or once, a listener), the rich Calvinism that provides a great framework and big picture – like the very firmament that God stretched out for the sky, all these and more, have always made me come back to them, the greatest preachers of all time.

1:41 AM  

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