I love Jonathan Edwards. My first exposure to him was in my high school Freshman English Class, where we read Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, the most famous sermon Edwards ever preached. Looking back, I find it interesting that we read this, but it does show the Edwards was one of the key figures of the early days of our country, and his thought had great impact on the American experience. I was told though, that Edwards influence came because he was a flamboyant preacher who shouted and screamed these sermons at his audiences, using emotional manipulation to gain responses. What I have learned since then is that the truth is actually the direct opposite. Edwards preached from behind a large pulpit at his church in Northampton, MA reading the manuscript of his sermons in a largely monotone presentation. Seems a bit boring, but what that was happening people were falling on their knees crying out to God in repentance and faith. And so the First Great Awakening was born. Edwards was our figure in the Think Different series church history focus this week.
Our current series Think Different is designed to help us as followers of Jesus to navigate our current culture, seeking to figure out how to stand in the truth of the Gospel while at the same time being people of grace. We can feel fairly alone in this pursuit, believing that these are the worst days and that nobody has ever had times like this. Truth is that at every point in church history there has always been a cultural pressure put on Christianity calling the church to abandon some core belief in order to accommodate the culture. And at every moment God has sent his church key leaders who have faithfully held to the truth of the Gospel proclaiming it to the world in which they lived. Many of these people endured hardship and persecution as they sought to remain faithful to the Scriptures and their mission in the world. During this series one of the things we want to do is to introduce our church to some of these people. In the sermon we will share a little bit about the individuals, but also want to use the blog to give more information. We will be sharing articles from the Christian History website that contain biographical sketches from the book 131 Christians Everyone Ought to Know.
Jonathan Edwards – Christian History Profile