When I teach church history courses at Southeastern Seminary, I always encourage my students to pick a favorite saint from bygone days and allow him or her to become a “traveling partner” throughout the students’ own lives and ministries. I tell them my traveling partner is Jonathan Edwards. No other post-biblical believer has shaped my own understanding of the Christian life more than the famous eighteenth-century pastor, theologian, and revivalist.
I find that many ministers and seminarians have read about Edwards. Some have read a biography of Edwards, often one of George Marsden’s two studies or the more popular biography written by Iain Murray. Many have been introduced to Edwards’s life and thought through the writings of John Piper; that was my own testimony in the late-1990s. Of course, most of us who were educated in public schools picked up a truncated view of Edwards when we read “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” in a high school literature class. But I find relatively few folks have actually read anything by Edwards, with the exception of the aforementioned revival sermon.
Presbyterian pastor David Filson offers a list of ten reasons ministers and seminarians should read the writings of Jonathan Edwards. His ten reasons are spread out over two blog posts published at The Christward Collective (see post one and post two). Filson helpfully offers many suggestions about what to read as he makes his case. I have summarized his list below.
1) Edwards was intoxicated with God’s majestic Tri-unity
2) Edwards was properly doctrinal in his preaching
3) Edwards was redemptive-historical before redemptive-historical was popular
4) Edwards made Christology a preeminent and pastoral matter
5) Edwards was relentlessly biblical without being a bald Biblicist
6) Edwards was a fit preacher
7) Edwards had tasted and seen that the Lord is good
8) Edwards is hard to read (everyone needs to be challenged!)
9) Because some of the most well-known and theologically faithful pastors and theologians have urged us to read Edwards
10) Because not-so-well-known faithful pastors and theologians are saying we should read Edwards
I would encourage you to read Filson’s two posts on this topic at The Christward Collective. More importantly, I would encourage you to read Edwards himself.