Podcast: The Unlikely Legacy of Jonathan Edwards (Dane Ortlund)

This text is a part of the The Crossway Podcast sequence.

In Love with the Fantastic thing about God

Dane Ortlund, writer of Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Fantastic thing about God discusses the life and legacy of Jonathan Edwards, the 18th-century preacher most well-known for his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” He displays on his ministry as a pastor, how the fantastic thing about God match into Edwards’s method to the Christian life, and what we are able to study from him virtually 300 12 months later.

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Full Transcript

01:23 – Welcome

Matt Tully
Dane, thanks for becoming a member of us on The Crossway Podcast.

Dane Ortlund
Thanks, Matt.

01:27 – A Prediction of Edward’s Life

Matt Tully
Three many years after Edwards died in 1758, a person named Ezra Stiles made a prediction associated to him. Are you able to clarify what that prediction was and what it reveals about Edwards?

Dane Ortlund
Nicely, Ezra Stiles was President of Yale, the place Edwards was a pupil at one time, and I like this quote as a result of we don’t keep in mind Ezra Stiles in any respect, however he stated one thing like–I don’t have the precise quote memorized–however one thing like, , “In a very short time Jonathan Edwards’ writings are going to be noticed scarce above oblivion”– I keep in mind was one of many phrases he makes use of–and he says, “When people come across his books in the trash cans of libraries”–it is a trendy paraphrase–“those who read them are going to be looked at as real weirdos.” And it’s simply such a telling comment into the best way God really works, in that he likes to take these backwoods, out of the best way, skinny, introverted preachers who died with 300 books of their library and use them for hundreds of years after to do precisely what Ezra Stiles predicted would by no means occur, which is to enormously strengthen the church.

02:58 – Edward’s Legacy

Matt Tully
And the way would you summarize Edwards’ legacy? If we have been to place it down into a couple of sentences, what affect has he had on the Christian church?

Dane Ortlund
That’s a irritating query to reply as a result of you may’t do it justice. However there simply was nobody like Jonathan Edwards. Martin Luther was like Peter: rash, punchy, earthy, in your face. Jonathan Edwards was just like the Apostle John: elegant, calm and calming, in love with God, and feeling cherished by God. And whenever you learn Jonathan Edwards, you simply really feel such as you’re being walked into an open sunny meadow out of a darkish, damp, musty hallway. And it’s a brand new world.

04:01 – A False impression about Edwards

Matt Tully
What would you say is likely one of the largest misconceptions that trendy Christians have with regards to Edwards? You simply sketched a portrait of him that I feel many would discover maybe a bit stunning.

Dane Ortlund
Yeah, you’re proper. I don’t assume the first false impression by Christians at present could be that he was only a hellfire and brimstone form of preacher. Perhaps by non-Christians, certain. I keep in mind ninth grade class with Mrs. Arbiter–hope she’s not listening to this; I doubt she is–telling us one factor about Jonathan Edwards, specifically Sinners within the Fingers of an Offended God”. He was a grouchy preacher who wished to make folks really feel actual unhealthy about themselves. However I feel in all probability, Matt, the best false impression amongst believers–which is what you simply requested–is that he’s onerous to learn. Sure. There are a few of his books that you just don’t need to begin with. Freedom of the Will, for instance, by which he meant your will isn’t free. Or The Nature of True Advantage. A few of these are . . . I don’t know what he’s speaking about in The Nature of True Advantage* and I’ve tried a few occasions to get by that brief e book. However the false impression is in case you get up and also you haven’t had three or 4 cups of espresso and also you attempt to learn Jonathan Edwards, you’re simply going to have your eyes glaze over and , he’s going to place you again to sleep. By no means. Should you go to his sermons, you discover him eminently accessible and since you discover that he is aware of your coronary heart and he maps the Bible and Christ onto it. And so he is aware of you.

05:45 – Starter Sermon

Matt Tully
What would a kind of sermons be that if somebody was coming to Edwards for the primary time and desires to get a style of that accessibility, that heat is there a sermon specifically that you’d advocate that they do a Google seek for?

Dane Ortlund
You’d be doing fantastic in case you plunked down anyplace on the one hand, Sinners within the Fingers of an Offended God isn’t an remoted sermon. It’s not even his most terrifying. In all probability The Justice of God and the Damnation of Sinners is the scariest sermon that he preached. If I needed to choose a single sermon–can I do that?–a single sermon to learn in case you say, “All right. I’m going to give him one chance and I’m not going to read a 300-page book, but one sermon and I’m going to determine on the basis of that if I’m going to read Jonathan Edwards ever again.” Then the one I would point to is on 1 John 4:16, “God is love and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

The Spirit of True Saints–title of the sermon–The Spirit of True Saints is a Spirit of Divine Love. That’s Jonathan Edwards in microcosm. It’s an extended sermon. It will need to have taken him over an hour to evangelise it. Nevertheless it’s in somewhat assortment of sermons referred to as, I feel, The Glory of God. It is likely to be The Blessing of God. It’s one or the opposite. And all the key themes of Edwards–mild, and love, and tranquility, and new delivery–come out and he says issues like, “You may go to Christ and tell him how you love him.” And he unpacks that. He says, “Labor to live a life of love.” He says, “A life of love is the most pleasant life to be lived.” And he explains that whenever you stay in love you’re really–whereas remaining a human, not being deified–being swept up into what has been occurring inside the Trinity from time immemorial. And it’s simply a fascinating sermon.

08:02 – Sinners within the Fingers of an Offended God

Matt Tully
Going again to Sinners within the Fingers of an Offended God, that’s that’s the one I feel most, even Christians in all probability, which will have been their first publicity to Edwards in the event that they ever did learn something by him or examine him at school. What do you assume that sermon specifically teaches us about Edwards? And what does it perhaps not give us an entire image on with regards to his his method to the Christian life?

Dane Ortlund
Proper. Nicely, he actually believed in hell and so it is likely to be a salutary train for a few of us at present who know that that isn’t the primary approach he preferred to evangelise–primary subject he preferred to evangelise about–it is likely to be good for us to say, “Hey, what–given the way we pray, given what we tell our kids day in and day out–what do we actually believe about the eternality and reality and horror of hell?” So there’s one thing there to be discovered. However that was not his . . . that wasn’t what animated him and acquired him away from bed within the morning primarily. In reality, in an Oxford College Press publication on the theology of Jonathan Edwards, two Edwards Students–two of the most effective–found and relate the best way the Hellfire and brimstone sermons pale out by way of frequency over the course of his ministry. The sooner Edwards was faster to evangelise on that and the extra mature Edwards cherished to evangelise on the loveliness of Christ.

09:41 – The Loveliness of Christ

Matt Tully
Communicate to that then. Elaborate on that trajectory that we see over his life and also you stated he arrives at this the notion of the loveliness of Christ. How does that match into his theological system later in his life?

Dane Ortlund
Nicely, he will need to have extra time matured into an understanding and consciousness of what really most deeply adjustments sinners. He got here to consider, I feel Matt, that it isn’t getting scared into Christ, however wooed into Christ. That’s the best option to construct traction in your stroll with God to welcome sinners into God’s very coronary heart. So I simply assume it’s one thing that he himself as he matured–as all of us do, together with him–grew in his understanding of How can we really transfer ahead within the Christian Life? It’s by being entranced with one thing engaging, not frightened into it.

10:57 – Preaching Fashion

Matt Tully
So we all know Edwards from all of his writings. He was president of Yale for a time period. However he was before everything a pastor and a preacher. We have now numerous his sermons, as you’ve talked about, now we have written variations of these sermons, clearly, no recordings. However what can we find out about his model of preaching? What would he have appeared like if we have been sitting in his church?

Dane Ortlund
Nicely, there are conflicting reviews really of that from church historical past. So one doesn’t need to be too dogmatic. What we are able to confidently say is that he didn’t wow folks with animated theatrics. He by no means would have made it as a TV preacher. He was the alternative of the rhapsodic Whitfield who was so animated, , drawing hundreds of individuals to listen to him and so forth. One observer commented that at any time when Edwards appeared up he would by no means look the folks within the face, however he appeared up on the prime at the back of the church on the clock tower and the bell in it. So it’s like, he’s studying his manuscript and he seems to be up on the clock tower and appears again down once more. Who is aware of if that’s precisely true, however that was one report. We additionally know one other observer stated folks would at occasions stretch out within the pews to take a nap whereas he was preaching. So he was not somebody who was simply incessantly, , magnetic in the best way he preached. However for the regenerate, the born-again, these with some religious aliveness to their hearts’ style buds–, they need one thing of God, they’re alive to God not directly–I feel his preaching was at all times edifying and sometimes beautiful as a result of he simply bored down–that’s a phrase Packer makes use of in describing Edwards’ preaching–he bored down on listeners consciences with the plain previous truths of sin and salvation. Packer or one thing like that. He was simply relentless in bringing out earlier than them fact about God in his calm, quiet, elegant, fastidiously structured approach and I feel it was at occasions magnificent.

13:13 – The Nice Awakening

Matt Tully
Yeah. We see a few of that in his affect on The Nice Awakening. Might you summarize his position in that revival and the way God used a few of his easy preaching?

Dane Ortlund
Oh, wow. He’s church historical past’s Theologian of Revival. He’s primary. We’re solely at 2,00zero years up to now, perhaps one other higher one will come alongside, however up to now he’s our greatest. He wrote in Spiritual Affections, Ideas on the Revival, and Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God. These are the three books, his three revival writings–Spiritual Affections lengthy the opposite two pretty brief–and he writes concerning the two revivals he skilled in his personal church. I imply corporately, not simply he himself. First, regionally in 1734-35 a revival that was sparked by his preaching on Romans 4:5 and justification by religion alone. After which 1740-42 The Transatlantic Nice Awakening the place Whitfield got here and visited, preached for Edwards, Edwards was out of city, Whitfield preached, his spouse was sitting within the entrance row in tears, and God did an amazing work then. And he took his Bible in a single hand and what he was observing in his different hand. And he put the 2 collectively and he wrote about what is going on in revival, and what isn’t occurring in revival, and what’s false revival in methods which might be very penetrating and present information of the human coronary heart. And you’ll’t learn that stuff, Matt, with out eager for it to occur once more.

14:53 – The Position of Magnificence

Matt Tully
You argue that magnificence–the notion of magnificence–performed a extremely central position in his theology broadly, however extra particularly his method to the Christian life. Elaborate on that.

Dane Ortlund
Nicely, he knew that solely a magnificence–seeing it, magnificence is one thing your eyes apprehend. You don’t hear Magnificence a lot you see it. He knew that seeing magnificence, or in a single place C.S. Lewis talks about “passing into it, longing to pass into it” is the one option to be led out of our intractable recalcitrance–our hard-heartedness–to be softened, to be set free of the previous man into the brand new, out of the flesh into the Spirit, to depart self behind. He knew you may’t crowbar your life into change by compelled, grunted, mustered up, exterior habits conformity; however that we’re softened and melted into change and that the best way that occurs is by God giving us eyes. And Ephesians 1 speaks of the eyes of our coronary heart being enlightened, being opened. And Edwards knew that solely in seeing God–supremely in Jesus, whom we see in Scripture–and Jesus love for sinners and victims is what ushers us into the inexperienced pastures and nonetheless waters of changing into human once more in communion with God. Seeing God. Seeing God in his magnificence. In different phrases, within the new delivery God reveals us he turns round our eyes, in a way, and turns what was trying ugly into what is definitely magnificence.

16:56 – Recommendation for Pastors

Matt Tully
And what recommendation do you assume Edwards would give pastors at present who’re searching for to study from his instance by way of their preaching? You talked about how Edwards was, in some sense, merely preaching the fundamental message of salvation, however then he was additionally alive to the fantastic thing about God and that got here by in his preaching. How may he instruct pastors at present on integrating these issues into their preaching?

Dane Ortlund
I’d like to ask him that query, however a thought or two that involves thoughts is he would encourage preachers at present, I feel, to saturate their minds within the Bible. Then take a brief passage to evangelise on. Learn it. After which open it up with a Bible-saturated thoughts. So that you’re drawing all these connections, bringing them to bear on this one textual content, and thru that textual content opening up as a lot as one can with all of the phrases within the English language opening up the minds of the listeners to see how beautiful Jesus Christ is spiritually. How irresistibly engaging he’s in case you see him for who he actually is. He would say, “Talk about God.” That’s what he would say, in Christ. Don’t learn the church development literature, don’t assume we have to implement a brand new technique or program, speak about God and don’t be boring after which see what occurs.

18:49 – Subjective vs. Goal

Matt Tully
One criticism that you just you’ve supplied with regard to Edwards is that he was–no less than by way of the Christian life, enthusiastic about the Christian life, dwelling the Christian Life, searching for sanctification–he was extra centered on the subjective relatively than the target. What do you imply by that?

Dane Ortlund
Yeah. Nicely, I might say the Reformers recovered for us in an unimaginable approach the target aspect of our salvation. The sheer black and white gratuity of the Gospel, particularly as given to us within the Bible’s instructing on justification. They usually helped us to see justification is outdoors in “an alien righteousness” Luther referred to as it, and also you mess it up in case you attempt to make it inside out. Your standing, your justification of the target aspect, However Edwards, as a late Puritan–that is true of all of the Puritans, I feel–they’re our greatest coaches in understanding the subjective aspect of Christian salvation. And subjectively, by way of sanctification, we’re modified inside out and we mess it up if we attempt to make it outdoors in. However I do assume Edwards was . . . I need to be very cautious right here Matt, however I do assume he was overly introspective, subjectively oriented. You realize, Robert Murray M’Cheyne famously stated, “For every one look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ”, Edwards didn’t try this. However I feel what M’Cheyne stated is a biblically defensible place. Second Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves, test yourself to see if you’re in the faith.” We have now these statements within the Bible, however they’re one out of 10 not 10 to at least one. So I don’t assume Edwards was taking the entire course of his ministry as comforting with the target aspect of the Gospel as he may have been. I say that very cautiously and perhaps I’m off in saying that. Perhaps in 20 years I’ll take that again, however I doubt it.

21:00 – Overemphasis on Introspection

Matt Tully
Can we see that–that maybe overemphasis on introspection–is that seen in his preaching in addition to his personal private writings, or his journals, or the place are we form of seeing that pattern? Or is it throughout the board?

Dane Ortlund
Each. In every single place. I feel throughout his writings. Yeah. Yeah. I imply his sermons are the place we must always go primarily to learn Edwards and it’s what I’m primarily aware of, however I simply I want he had a deeper capability for understanding simply how weak and fickle Christians are–maybe far more so than he was–and the way a lot they must be assured, merely reassured, of God’s unflappable favor for them in Christ. He did that at occasions. I’m not saying all or nothing right here, however the basic tenor and taste of his ministry, that’s what I’m speaking about.

21:50 – Private Resolutions

Matt Tully
So early in his life, he wrote what’s famously acknowledged as his Resolutions, his checklist of private resolutions for his personal religious life. How did he come to view these later in his life? And the way does that maybe illustrate what you’re speaking about right here?

Dane Ortlund
Yeah, he wrote like 70 of them. They have been one sentence every , “Resolve to do this, resolve to do that.” I feel he was 19, wasn’t he, when he wrote these. You’re proper to ask how he checked out them later in life, Matt, as a result of he did . . . he was somewhat extra reluctant about them trying again as a middle-aged man on what he stated there. I feel he was a bit extra reasonable at that time and conscious of how bizarre our fallen hearts are and dysfunctional even in methods the place blind to and the best way we are going to take good resolutions and pursue them in a approach that isn’t maybe fully-flavored by the grace of the Gospel. So he did look again and say I may need been somewhat bit overly zealous in writing these out, however we are able to nonetheless obtain, and profit from, and study from, and have a good time what he says in these resolutions. They don’t seem to be unhealthy or unhealthy.

23:05 – Sanctification

Matt Tully
How would you counsel Christians to consider the the intersection of resolving and considering onerous about our personal sanctification, working onerous in direction of that finish, and but sustaining a steadiness with not ever slipping into considering that that’s offering the grounds of our acceptance earlier than God and even that’s the first locus of our assurance?

Dane Ortlund
That’s an amazing query and wouldn’t you say the reply is it’s a each/and? They rise and fall collectively. In different phrases, in case you pursue solely a kind of you aren’t in keeping with apostolic Christian discipleship. Both to make resolutions–I imply, Benjamin Franklin is legendary for writing out all these items these virtues he wished to form of knock them off one-by-one and he could be this virtuous man on the finish of it and he was a Godless man and he grew to become annoyed in that. So we are able to strive to do this at the same time as believers–write out resolutions and search to maintain them–and we’ll both turn out to be prideful if we expect we’re maintaining them, or despairing if we expect we aren’t. However then again, we are able to flee too far the opposite approach, then swing the opposite approach in an over equally imbalanced way of life the Christian fife that claims, “Oh, out of fear that I would ever do something legalistically, I’m never going to resolve to do anything and I’m simply going to bask and relax in the grace of God.” that’s equally ill-balanced and unbiblical. So you will have Ephesians 1-3. Grace, who you’re, your new id, chosen in Christ, raised with Christ, cherished by Christ. After which three chapters of how this now works out. In a way it’s the grace of God after which the resolutions it is best to rightly make in mild of that grace. It’s each/and never both/or.

Matt Tully
As you have a look at trendy conservative Evangelicalism. What do you assume could be . . . which route would we are inclined to tip, in case you can you may generalize?

Dane Ortlund
It’s onerous to generalize, isn’t it? It in all probability is determined by what little pocket of the Evangelical world you parachute down into to reply that query. There could be some quarters who can not deal with studying Jonathan Edwards due to the best way he relentlessly calls us to holiness. And there could be different quarters who would learn that sermon sequence on Romans 4:5 and say, “This guy is an antinomian! He’s totally thrown out the need for pursuing holiness.” So it is determined by the place in Edwards you’re studying and who you’re speaking to, however I feel anybody from any quarter of the Christian church, Matt, can start to wade into the writings of Edwards and be corrected the place they must be.

26:00 – Gentleness and Calm within the Christian Life

Matt Tully
In what approach does gentleness play a task in Edwards’ method to the Christian Life?

Dane Ortlund
He speaks about gentleness usually. And I centered on that within the e book as an entire chapter as a result of it’s a pervasive, no less than frequent, biblical theme. It’s a uncared for advantage, no less than in what I hearken to and skim within the church at present, and it’s one thing I don’t actually have in my very own life. So I believed, “Maybe this is worth giving a chapter to.” And he makes use of gentleness as a synonym for phrases like meekness, a dove-like spirit, a lamb-like spirit. And he principally says this, Matt, “Gentleness isn’t a gift of the Spirit for some. It’s a fruit of the Spirit for all. It’s in Galatians 5. It’s not in 1Corinthians 12.” So a few of us could also be extra wired naturally temperamentally in line with our Myers-Briggs evaluation says in direction of gentleness, however he would say everybody, as you come into Christ, needs to be gentleized from what they in any other case could be. And the best way he speaks about it is extremely lovely and value our reflection at present I feel.

Matt Tully
You additionally talked about that there’s a sure calm that he that his method to God would encourage. Communicate to that somewhat bit.

Dane Ortlund
Nicely, he actually believed within the sovereignty of God, for one factor. The sovereignty of God really, when studying First Timothy 1:17, “Now to the king immortal, invisible, the only God, be glory and honor forever and ever. Amen.” That was when the scales fell from his eyes when he was late teenager and he grew to become a believer, in all probability then really transformed. And as he goes on in his private narrative to unpack what was occurring inside him in that second and within the day surrounding it, the best way he unpacks it’s he got here to break down into perception within the sovereignty of God. He simply gave in. And so the sovereignty of God is a significant piece of how he understood the Christian life to be a lifetime of calm. The opposite main piece that makes his view of God not simply destiny is that this sovereign God is love. He’s an individual and what flows out of his deepest coronary heart is mercy and love. That’s the sovereign one. And whenever you put these two issues collectively, Edwards would say, “You are safe. You’re secure. Calm down.” And that’s seasonable counsel for our naturally frantic and frenetic hearts.

29:15 – Predestination

Matt Tully
How large a task did the doctrine of predestination and election play into Edwards’ . . . I feel we regularly consider the Puritans as very dour and really, very onerous on God’s sovereignty in his harsh windfall and these items. How may we be misunderstanding somewhat bit a few of that with Edwards?

Dane Ortlund
Windfall, sure. Harsh, no. You realize, in Ephesians 1 as Paul is unfolding in verses Three and following proper at first of the chapter of the letter God’s electing grace and makes use of the phrase “predestined” us, he says he predestined us in love. So Jonathan Edwards’ ministry and his theology of election, or predestination, holds these two issues collectively the best way the Apostle Paul did. And Edwards would say this, “To be one of the elect, to be chosen by God, to be predestined by him, is not a cold, hard, calculating doctrine. It simply means God loves you so much he left nothing to chance. He’s left nothing for you to mess up.” And that’s his doctrine of predestination. It’s full bore. Its excessive octane. He doesn’t ever mood it, or make excuses for it, or apologize for it. He’s as Calvinistic as you will get. Although, he stated, “I draw my doctrines from Paul not from John Calvin.” Nevertheless it’s a lovely Calvinism not a tough, repelling form of Calvinism.

31:00 – One Query for Edwards

Matt Tully
Final query. Should you may sit down with Edwards at present, if he was sitting the place I’m sitting, and you may ask him any query what do you’ll ask him?

Dane Ortlund
This can be a query that might that might in all probability make him cringe, however what I might need to ask him is, “How did you actually become the kind of man you became? What happened?” And I feel what he would say is he acquired up every day amid all of the crowding disappointments in his coronary heart, and causes to throw within the towel, and sleepy parishioners, and hectic overwhelming life with 11 children working the farm principally along with his spouse’s assist, I feel he would say, “I got up each day and I drew strength from this old book.” You realize, secular historians wish to debate who most closely influenced Jonathan Edwards and what have been the formative influences for him? Was it Hume? Was it Locke? You realize, which philosophical college was it? However whenever you learn any of his writings, it isn’t Hume and Locke that he’s quoting, primarily. It’s Paul, and John, and Isaiah. And I feel he would say, “Befriend the Bible prayerfully, attuned to the Spirit–this isn’t an arid, doctrinaire form of train, simply studying intellectually–do it humbly, spiritually, prayerfully, constantly over prolonged occasions at occasions. Get the Bible approach down deep inside you and watch the miracles unfold in your life. Watch the wonder come out as a result of that’s the form of particular person that can make you.

33:17 – Closing

Matt Tully
Dane, thanks for becoming a member of us at present and giving us a window into Edwards’ life, and his theology, and his method to the Christian life.

Dane Ortlund
You’re most welcome.


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