Jonathan 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.
+Amazing chapter on heaven
+Practical examples of Christian living
+Focused and concise
-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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Does the Future Have Moral Authority– It is common in debates about morality related to Christianity to see someone appeal to the moral progress we have made and to argue that in the future we won’t think x, y, or z are wrong, or we’ll think a, b, and c are right. What authority do such arguments have? Read this great post on the topic.
Abortion Methods: An Overview– A disturbing look (with pictures) at the methods used for abortions. This is a truly horrifying thing we are allowing in our country and across the world.
The Gobekli Tepe Ruins and the Origins of Neolithic Religion– An archaeological discovery may be turning what some thought about the origins of religion on its head. It’s also informing us about early religion.
Interpreting Similarities between Christian Doctrine and Pagan Mythology– An interesting look at how to think about the alleged similarities between Christianity and pagan mystery religions.
Jung’s Therapeutic Gnosticism– A fascinating (lengthy) read about Carl Jung’s theology. I really enjoyed this one.
The Powerful Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards– Think you were awesome with your New Year’s resolution? Check out this list from Jonathan Edwards.
My Christian Apology by Martin Murphy provides some unique insight into apologetics. Rather than focusing upon arguments for the existence of God or methodology at the expense of historical understanding, Murphy grounds both arguments and method in history.
The book starts off with some introductory notes. What is apologetics? How do we communicate apologetics? These sections provide the groundwork of many apologetics texts. But Murphy quickly differentiates his work from most standard introductions to apologetics. His book focuses largely on epistemology and its relation to apologetics.
Murphy does a great job of making these concepts accessible to general readers. He defines epistemology (19) and then gradually eases the reader into its various applications to apologetics (19ff). A central theme throughout is that unbelievers and Christians have common grounds from which they can start discussions. One of these common grounds is Natural Law, which Murphy goes into at length (65ff). Natural Law has been repudiated by many modern thinkers, but it is grounded in Scripture and has a great theological base. I’ve reviewed a Lutheran book on the topic which I think helps show how useful Natural Law is. Murphy points out that Natural Law can provide a basis for knowledge of God. “If we know we are transgressors then we know we have violated the law of God” (73). This knowledge is not saving knowledge, but it provides a basis for judgment (84) and, I think, a possible common ground for apologetics.
Another strength of Murphy’s work is the focus upon historical apologetics. He cites Jonathan Edwards at length and in numerous places while exploring Edwards’ applications to apologetics (see 20-21, 29, 36, etc.). He also emphasizes the works of Southern Presbyterians in the area of apologetics. The historical background is a great quality of the work and one that I think Christian Apologists often fail to emphasize or utilize.
There is some emphasis on theology in My Christian Apology as well. Murphy’s discussion of natural law leads to a drawing out of the “noetic effects of sin.” Again, the points Murphy raises are clear and concise. Some readers will disagree, but all will be challenged. I find this account eminently plausible and I think that even those who disagree need to at least account for the Biblical case for original sin.
Martin Murphy’s My Christian Apology is a brief work that has a ton of great information packed into it. Questions that other basic apologetics books tend to avoid are treated with precision and lucidity. The emphasis on historical apologetics leads to many insights readers won’t find in other introductory works. I recommend that readers use this book along with other basic apologetics books in order to develop a more well-rounded apologetic method.
Martin Murphy, My Christian Apology (2010).
The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.