Monday, January 5, 2009

Nonfiction Book Review: Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians

Byrd, James P. 2008. Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians. Westminster John Knox Press. 195 pages.

If you're looking for a user-friendly guide to the life, teachings, and philosophy of Jonathan Edward look no further. I won't lie and say that it is the most accessible book ever written, but it goes above and beyond in making him accessible to modern readers.

Here's the introduction:
Let me guess: your first encounter with Jonathan Edwards was disturbing. For decades high school English teachers have terrorized their students by requiring them to read "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," the sermon that made Edwards infamous and secured his reputation as an expert on the horrors of hell. If that was your experience, it probably wasn't your most horrifying experience in high school (for me, that was the junior prom)

I just loved that introduction. Acknowledging that Edwards has a reputation that isn't so nice...especially with more modern readers who might have more than a handful of issues with Edward's theology. The book does not presume that readers are Edwards' biggest fans, nor does it expect them to embrace Edwards' theology. It simply and clearly presents in a very logical manner the context for understanding Edwards--his life, his career, his teachings, his legacy, etc. (Seven chapters in all: The Young Edwards: Exploring Divine Beauty; An Affection for Revival; Exodus from Northampton; Freedom of the Will?; Original Sin; Creation and True Virtue; A Legacy Begun: The Edwards Ethos.)

The book features the illustrations of Ron Hill.

I enjoyed this addition to the Armchair Theologians series. I've also read Calvin for Armchair Theologians, Luther for Armchair Theologians, and the Reformation for Armchair Theologians. Though not all of those were blogged about since they were mostly all read before I started blogging.


Anonymous said...

I love the name of your blog. The "Actually" made me chuckle. Again, love your review of books. You inspire me to strive for better.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea there was an Armchair Theology series. Thanks for the tip. Engjoyed your review and I like all of your blogs.