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Book Chapter

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Department 1

Civil War Era Studies

Department 2



Book Summary: Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is widely regarded as one of the major thinkers in the Christian tradition and an important and influential figure in American theology. After Jonathan Edwards is a collection of specially commissioned essays that track his intellectual legacies from the work of his immediate disciples that formed the New Divinity movement in colonial New England, to his impact upon European traditions and modern Asia. It is a unique interdisciplinary contribution to the reception of Edwardsian ideas, with scholars of Edwards being brought together with scholars of New England theology and early American history to produce a groundbreaking examination of the ways in which New England Theology flourished, how themes in Edwards's thought were taken up and changed by representatives of the school, and its lasting influence on the shape of American Christianity.

Chapter Summary: It was the fondest hope of Jonathan Edwards that the Great Awakening of the 1740s was simply the overture to the Day of Judgment and the thousand-year reign of God directly on earth, the Millennium, when "religion shall in every respect be uppermost in the world." But instead of the dawning of a general revival of the Christian church that would cause to "bow the heavens and come down and erect his glorious kingdom through the earth," what Edwards got was a controversy with his own congregation in Northampton over church membership, followed by the humiliation of dismissal by that congregation, and self-imposed demotion to management of a mission to a tribe of Indians whose language he did not speak as well as oversight of an English congregation whose attention span was, in Edwards's judgment, not up to what it should have been. It was a tenure punctuated by the onset of the French and Indian War, and wracked by still more stiff-necked controversies over pastoral issues, although, unlike his situation in Northampton, he had the powerful sponsorship of the provincial governor, Sir William Pepperell, to protect him. But his attention never wandered far from the possibility of a renewed visitation of divine grace. [excerpt]

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