Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Jonathan Edwards' Approach to Preaching & Union with Christ

Anthea McCall, Ridley faculty member in Melbourn, has done an amazing job explaining Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening to us. She focuses on Edwards' preaching style/method and content and the centrality of the Union with Christ in it. Two quotes, the first on his approach to preaching, which immediately reminds me of Samuel Davies sermons:
'Edwards'formulation of justification did not depend on the many set steps to salvation practiced by traditional Puritan Preparationists. Nor did it depend on any status or education or human virtue as was implicit or even explicit in the Enligtenment or Arminian gospel. Edwards' preaching on justification by faith alone opened the door wide and people came flooding through it to Christ. Wheeler argues that for Edwards, his gospel of equality, and his doctrine of original sin put all on the same level and encourages mutual compassion.

Secondly, Edwards argued also for the 'easy and plain' manner in which he preached these sermons. He suggests that it was the 'frame in which they heard the sermons' which had impact on his hearers. Edwards appears to be commending direct, plain speech in contrast to the preaching style of Arminian sermons which Edwards descried as 'too much encumbered with speculative niceties.. they have a show of learning in obscure words, but convey no light to the mind' Edwards appears to advocate that an unpretentious, plain, direct style will promote the content and meaning of justification.'
The second quote on union with Christ:
'So union with Christ plays a vital role in Edwards' attempt to preach the Bible accurately as well as resolving the debates concerning causation between faith, justification and obedience. It is our union with Christ, which provides the right foundation of both our justification and our sanctification. To the Arminian it makes clear that no ground exists for human boasting before God, and to the Antinomian it makes clear that obedience is an absolute necessity. Edwards' well known quote sums up his argument well:

God don't give those that believe, an union with, or an interest in the Savior, in reward for faith, but only because faith is the soul's active uniting with Christ, or is itself the very act of unition, on their part.. what is real in the union between Christ and his people, is the foundation of what is legal; that is, it is something really in them, and between them, uniting them, that is the ground of the suitableness of their being accounted as one by the Judge..'
Sofar one of the best articles on Jonathan Edwards available online.

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