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.