Dane C. Ortlund

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Book Review: “Edwards on the Christian Life” by Dane C. Ortlund

edwards-ortlundJonathan Edwards is perhaps the most famous of all American theologians. Edwards on the Christian Life draws from his enormous body of work to provide insight into Christian life.

The book is organized around chapters which each focus on one aspect of the Christian life, according to Edwards. Chapters include Joy, Beauty, Heaven, Satan, and more. Each of these is oriented around showing how the chapter’s title relates to Edwards’ view of the Christian life. The chapter on beauty provides a feel for the rest of the book, as Ortlund argues that Edwards’ view of God as beauty/beautiful impacts most of the rest of his theology. The chapter on heaven was particularly excellent. On heaven, Edwards’ vision of the beauty that believers would experience and the way they would interact is brought forth by Ortlund in breathtaking fashion. It is rare to find myself filled with emotion while reading a theology book, but Ortlund’s work in this chapter had me just overcome with awe at the beauty of how Edwards described it.

Other chapters were quite helpful as well, such as the chapters on pilgrimage, obedience, and Satan, set all in a row, which outlined the Christian life, sanctification, and spiritual warfare and temptation respectively. The insights to be drawn from this book on Christian living ought not be understated. Ortlund did a great job bringing forward many of these insights.

Ortlund admirably steers clear of the primary pitfall of some books in the series–getting so caught up in discussing the theology of the person being examined that the book loses focus on “the Christian Life.” This is not to say any of the books in the series are bad–indeed, I have read many and enjoyed them all–but it is good to have the focus on the topic at hand. Each aspect of Edwards’ theology that is examined here is brought to bear on the Christian life in meaningful ways.

The one criticism I have is, ironically, of the criticisms offered. The final chapter (apart from the conclusion) offers four criticisms of Edwards’ theology, such as an overly introspective view. Although I think Ortlund’s criticisms of Edwards are on point, they could have been better dealt with in individual chapters. It’s a minor criticism for a phenomenal book.

Edwards on the Christian Life is yet another excellent entry in the “Theologians on the Christian Life” series. Ortlund introduces readers to a fantastic range of Edwards’ thought, all while remaining focused on how that thought applies to the Christian life. Indeed, it made me want to read more of Edwards myself. I recommend it highly.

The Good

+Amazing chapter on heaven
+Practical examples of Christian living
+Focused and concise
+Excellent format

The Bad

-Criticisms could have been better placed


Dan C. Ortlund, Edwards on the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014).

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher. I was not required to give any specific feedback whatsoever.


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