InterVarsity Press has been generous enough to give me 5 books to review for the summer and this is the second one I’ve read. I was lucky enough to choose my books, so it may seem as you read these reviews that they are all pretty positive. I wasn’t paid to like these books, but I did choose books I was pretty sure I would like.
Being a follower of Mark Driscoll and other reformed pastors, I’ve been excited to read and hear about some of the old reformers and that is why I chose this book.
Doug Sweeney in this book basically takes himself completely out of the picture and paints the picture of Jonathan Edwards’ life wonderfully. I knew next to nothing about this great American Pastor, Theologian and Christian thinker until I read this book, so all the content was fresh and brand new to me.
As I read, I noticed myself feeling the same burning passions that Edwards himself felt; his life was and is contagious. His desire for the Word of God and the Spirit of God are like a burning disease that his life seems to endlessly spread to those who are close enough to him. I feel like this book brought the proximity close enough to be excited, not about Edwards, but the God Edwards served.
Like I said before, I knew next to nothing about Edwards’ life, so I knew very little of what he actually taught and wrote, but Doug tied each piece of Edwards writing directly into the narrative of Jonathan’s life. I was able to see the literary growth of Edwards and I now have a deep desire to go out and read the mans books because I have a background solid enough to know what the books are about and where in the life of Edwards they landed.
Seeing the passion Edwards had for God, as well as his warts made him real to me. This biography reminded me of my favorite biography of all time: A Passion for God- The Biography of A.W. Tozer and brought me to the same place as that book: desiring God more than I did before. When a man’s life points ever upward, you know he lived his life well and in a manner worthy of his calling! I didn’t desire to be Edwards, I simply desired to posses the same passion that he had for the living God!
Mark Dever who is the senior pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church summed this book up perfectly when he says: “Doug Sweeney has written a fine introduction to Jonathan Edwards’ life and theology. Accessible and accurate, this introduction is a good place to start in trying to understand Edwards as a man, a Christian, a theologian and a pastor.” (Taken from the back jacket)
It is 200 pages exactly but it is rich and meaty, giving the best of edwards’ life and like I said before a great taste-test of the man himself making you to desire more for this great man.
At the end of the book Doug did something different than most biographical books out there; he wrote up 7 Theses for discussion based off of Edwards’ life. I will write them out below because seeing these may just push you over that edge and make you want to get this book for yourself.
“Thesis #1: Edwards shows us the importance of working to help people gain a vivid sense, an urgent impression, of God’s activity in our world
Thesis #2: Edwards shows us that true religion is primarily a matter of holy affections
Thesis #3: Edwards shows us the advantage of keeping an eschatological perspective on our lives
Thesis #4: Edwards shows us how God uses those who lose their lives for Christ
Thesis #5: Edwards shows us that theology can and should be done primarily in the church, by pastors, for the sake of the people of God
Thesis #6: Edwards shows us that even the strongest Christians need support from others
Thesis #7: Edwards shows us the necessity of remaining in God’s Word” (Sweeney, pgs. 197-199)
I loved this addition to the biography because it gave the reader 7 very applicable take-aways from the life and ministry of Jonathan Edwards. I am extremely grateful to IVP for letting me review this book. I strongly recommend this read to anyone and everyone. It reaches a wide audience and I am sure it will spark a desire within most readers to go out and read more of Edwards’ work for themselves!