Saturday, 25 October 2014

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.