Today in Church History

October 5

Jonathan Edwards

Three hundred years ago, On October 5, 1703, Jonathan Edwards was born in East Windsor, Connecticut.

Generally regarded as America's greatest theologian, Edwards authored several classics in Christian literature, including The Religious Affections, The Freedom of the Will, and The Nature of True Virtue. In addition he is well known for preaching what might be the most famous sermon in American history, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God". He was an ardent supporter of the Great Awakening, defending the revival both against its critics and its zealous extremists.

Pastor, theologian, missionary to Native Americans, and President of the College of New Jersey for a brief time before his death in 1758, Edwards' legacy has generated divided assessments. For some his theological orthodoxy and spiritual zeal exemplify the best of "experiential Calvinism." For other interpreters, his incorporation of Enlightenment ideas inevitably led to theological deviation of his successors in the rise of "New England Theology."

Several books have been recently published to mark the Edwards tercentenary, including George Marsden's biography, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (Yale, 2005) and The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards: American Religion and the Evangelical Tradition, ed. by D. G. Hart, S. M. Lucas, and S. J. Nichols (Baker, 2005).

- John Muether

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