Book Review – Edwards on the Christian Life (24/10)

Jonathan Edwards has been the rave of the town for the past few years, he is without doubt one of America’s finest theologians. It is heartening to see so many reading Edwards in this day and age. And for those who are hoping to start reading Edwards, I think there is no better introduction to the thoughts of Edwards than the book by Dane Ortlund.

Edwards on the Christian LifeDane Ortlund has in this book very succinctly and comprehensively shown the readers the major themes of Jonathan Edwards. Ortlund has proposed to that beauty is the overarching theme of Edwards, which he explains and shows in the first chapter.

This then breaks off into smaller segments which covers different topics. I found the topics on prayer, heaven and satan especially helpful for me in understanding, and as with every book in this series. What is shared in these books are not brilliants ideas fit for the armchair theologians, rather they are things that are very practical and peculiar to the christian live. Furthermore, I found Ortlund often very insightful not just in helping me understand Edwards, but also in bringing out his point.

Let me give you an example: While talking about prayer, Ortlund brilliantly illustrates what Edward’s point was.

“Much contemporary evangelical exhortation to pray fails to land on us with power because it holds out before believers the urgency of the task and how practically to go about it more than the beauty of the One with whom we are communing and the greatness of what he promises. But the way to motivate praying is not to focus on praying but to focus on God. You do not need to pull out The Dummy’s Guide to Verbal Admiration when you stand before Victoria Falls in southern Africa. Beauty arrests us. The words of awe tumble out on their own.”

Edwards point was that when we see God in His beauty, then prayer would be the most natural response we have towards God. So what will spur Christians to  pray more? A deeper knowledge and enthralment of God, I cannot agree more.

This book has been, encouraging to read, it has spurred me to want to really dig in to read Edwards. What is more, it has helped me God, in all His glory as what Edwards has and spurred me on in my christian life.

Ortlund has also very clearly helped the readers see some of the flaws of Edwards, although these are not fatal flaws, they are nevertheless, flaws. Ortlund raises 4 of them, which I agree are valid points against Edwards. These are highlighted not to belittle Edwards, but to help readers read him carefully so as not to repeat the mistakes again.

What I highly recommend readers to do, is to read the preface carefully, it will give you a good overview of what will be covered within the book, giving you a logical flow and the structure of the book. This is certainly aid you as you plow through this book. It’s not too difficult, but it’ll certainly be good for your soul.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough if you really want to understand Jonathan Edwards. A big thank you to Dane Ortlund for writing it, and for Crossway to being willing to publish this great series. Looking forward to reading more of such books (Luther and Owen especially) in this series! You really should consider to buy one and read it.

Rating: 5 / 5

If you’re interested you can get a copy here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review – Why God Created the World – A Jonathan Edwards Adaptation (12/8)

This is a question that every christian would have asked, ‘Why did God create the world?’ The young asks in curiosity and the old asks in bewilderment, their advances in years have seemingly not helped them much on this question!Why God Created the World

But, Jonathan Edwards has done A LOT of thinking in this question, and has even written a book on it! But, sometimes people have complained about how difficult it is to read Jonathan Edwards. So what can these people do? (Other than persevering on and reading it!) A good alternative is now available, Ben Stevens has paraphrased and modernised Jonathan Edwards’ ‘A Dissertation Concerning the End for Which the World Was Created’ into this easy to read work.

To be honest, I’m not a fan of abridgement or paraphrasing or anything of that sort. To me, if you really want to know what someone has written, you should be prepared to work hard at trying to understand what he’s actually saying! But alas, some works prove to be really tough, and only those who are already well-motivated to read that particular work/author would be prepared to work through it. Most would be turned off and would never again go back to such wonderful works. (John Owen would be one such example)

As I read this book, I was quite marvelled at how well and systematic and comprehensive Edwards was in thinking through this question. No doubt, being able to read this text at such a fast and easy pace made it easy for me to follow the argument that Edwards was making. (I doubt I would have been able to if I was reading the original work, you can try it yourself too! The 1st chapter of the original work is found at the appendix)

Ben is highly commended for the excellent job he has done especially with this very tough assignment. He is really able to allow Edwards to speak to us, in no way does he tries to interject his ideas into the readers but really allows the readers to come away with a deep appreciation of Edwards, and to spur readers to then dive into Edwards’ own writing.

I foresee this work will spur even more readers to be exposure to Edwards, and also encourage them to read Edwards’ in his original form. This book is really a good primer for anyone who wishes to have a feel of how Edwards is, and will act like a ‘hook’ to hook others to read Edwards even more after they’re done with this book and I look forward to future such adaptations!

Rating: 4.5/5

If you’re interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping), Kindle.

Disclaimer: I was given this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review – Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography (18/6)

Books

Jonathan Edwards is often considered as the greatest (if not one of the greatest) theologian in the history of the American Church. But how much do you know about him? His family? And the context he lives in?

0851514944In comes, Iain Murray’s ‘Jonathan Edwards – A New Biography’. Murray first explains his own presuppositions about Edwards and on the biography he has written. Murray then traced the life of Jonathan Edwards chronologically, starting from the first generation of Edwards who came to New England, till the death of Edwards, and also some of his family members.

Along the way, the family members of Jonathan Edwards, was given ample space to let the reader know not just about Edwards, but also about he family that he had, especially his wife and his 2 daughters, Jerusha and Esther.

Murray has done a thorough job by quoting many times, from primary sources, and help any reader see the context that Edwards was in. Not only so, Murray often gives helpful insights and comments on the situation. Jonathan Edwards, warts and all was presented in this biography.

The last chapter talks about how Edwards has been “forgotten” in the past, and is now slowly reaching a wider readership in this generation. Hopefully this book will spur even more readers to read Edwards for themselves.

Although this is definitely not the book I would recommend as a first introduction of a biography to Jonathan Edwards, it deserves careful study, and any Edwards scholar or Edwards enthusiast cannot miss out on this volume, but the reader has to be warned, it’s over 470+ pages and is not for the faint-hearted or the uninitiated. I myself have also “given up” along the way and slowly continued till I was done with the book. Hopefully you’re gain from this book a much better understanding of Edwards, his family and his time.

Rating: 4/5

If you’re interested, you can get it here, and here (free international shipping)