What Joel Did Not Know

And What Many Christians Will Not Tell You About Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards was a brilliant thinker, excellent in understanding Scripture in his day, as well as 17th century philosophy; indeed, I even think that his critique of nationalism is relevant in today’s world. Perhaps what separates priests from prophets, however, is where they stand on the prevailing moral  issues of their times; it is suffice to say, in my mind, that Jonathan Edwards falls short of the prophetic tradition and remains in the priestly class, the church of Aaron as Bonhoeffer once preached on (See Bonhoeffer’s sermon: “The Church of the World and the Church of the Word.”

Why? Because in spite of all of Edwards talk of political liberty, he did not believe in the freedom of the oppressed, the enslaved Africans of his day. They were treated as a group, undignified and crucified, rather than as individuals with rights that came from the Triune God. One may say, and I have read and own works such as the Trinitarian Ethics of Jonathan Edwards , that Edwards’ son became a leading voice in the abolition movement. Ye, I say to thee, the son suffers from the father’s sins any more (check Ezekiel 18). Each individual is judged according to her own actions. So, I would say that this logic is flawed from the outset if one uses this defense. And there cannot be any excuse, for there were Calvinist theologians who were anti-slavery, Lemuel Haynes, Nat Turner and John Brown.

One cannot consider herself appropriately Trinitarian or ethical if she neglects movements of human freedom within the history of Christianity.  For our Holy and Triune God is not the apathetic  Watchmaker deity of the Enlightenment or the know-nothing/do-nothing god of process thought, but the Holy One of Israel, a Liberator and Lover of all of the Living.  For this reason, Edwards must remain remembered as a member of the Aaronite priesthood within Christendom, who while serving his vocation to lead the people of God to worship, he also succumbed to the congregations request to lift up the idols of RACE and MAMMON over and above the one true God.

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0 thoughts on “What Joel Did Not Know

  1. Ryan

    “For our Holy and Triune God is not the apathetic Watchmaker deity of the Enlightenment or the know-nothing/do-nothing god of process thought, but the Holy One of Israel, a Liberator and Lover of all of the Living.”

    A three-fold amen to that. I am always perplexed when many of my “progressive” mainline friends talk about how great Jesus was as if Jesus never knew about YHWH, the one who brings down the mighty and exalts the weak. The worst thing for many of my friends in this camp, I think, is being accused of “supernaturalism.”

    Reply
    1. Rod of Alexandria Post author

      Oh yeah, well process theology has gained in popularity among evangelical and mainline circles. I mean I see a lot of problems with it, especially in terms of the bad Christology of many process theologians. Take that back. All process theologians generally have a bad Christology.

      Reply
      1. Ryan

        Indeed. I recall after I’d given a sermon a friend of mine politely told me that my language was “too theistic” because “God can’t want anything.” Then she lent me a book by Bishop John Robinson. Figures.

        Reply
        1. Rod of Alexandria Post author

          “Too Theistic?” What does that mean? Wasn’t people-centered enough? That is just ridiculous.

          Reply
          1. Ryan

            Well people will believe anything that’s “cutting edge” as long as its published by Harper Collins (Borg, Spong, Karen Armstrong) 😉

      2. Ryan

        I also meant to ask a couple questions:

        1) Where’s the Jesus calming the storm painting on your mast from? It’s pretty awesome.

        2) Also, any suggestions for a good simple (if possible?) introduction to patristic writings? Something along the lines of a “best of/greatest hits” perhaps? 😉

        Reply
        1. Rod of Alexandria Post author

          1. For the picture, I googled, “Asian Jesus” for the Jesus calming the storm picture and I chose the picture I liked for the banner.

          2. As far as patristic thinking goes, the best starter (at least what got me into the work of the Fathers and Mothers) is Robert Wilkens’ The Spirit of Early Christianity. The other classic is JND Kelly’s Early Christian Doctrines. Also, anything by Jaroslav Pelikan is good, particularly his 5 volumes on The Christian Tradition. I have only had a chance to look at one of the volumes, but plan on trying to get this series.

          Reply
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  3. Fr. Robert (Anglican)

    Rod,

    It is always so easy to attack a man when he is both dead, and lived in another time and culture. To my mind this is both ad hoc, and can be ad hominem! It is always more creditable, when one has lived in both that age and culture. I am not a fan of the psychological bio today!

    Reply
    1. Rod of Alexandria Post author

      Ad hominem? I used the facts. Nothing more, nothing less. He supported slavery. It was the prevailing moral issue of the day. He failed. End of story. I am not into hero worship.

      Reply
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