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He "abhorred moderation in religion"

July 2, 2009

Michael J. McClymond observes this about Jonathan Edwards:

“Edwards abhorred moderation in religion. In an early entry in the Miscellanies, he went so far as to say that a saint would be ‘no less useful even in this world’ if his devotion were ‘to keep him all his lifetime in an ecstasy.’ The earlier examination of Edwards’s spirituality showed just how painstakingly he sought after ecastsy. A cool acquiescence in the abstract validity of religion was to him as good as no religion at all, and he saw the fundamental failure of his age in its sheer insensibility to God, that ‘the being of God and another world don’t seem real to them.’ Edwards became, in Henry May’s estimation, the moderate Enlightenment’s ‘most powerful enemy.’ He was the self-appointed apostle to the spiritually indifferent.”*

He’s right, even though he goes on to note that Edwards’s own standards were impossible to reach: “What repelled and offended many readers was Edwards’s relentlessness. He asked more of humans than was humane.”** Of course, any Reformed saint who knows his theology will tell you that the standard God requires of man is impossible. Edwards, too, insisted on this. Every life must be lived for the glory of God.

So may it be said of each of us, that we abhorred moderation in religion, and may that abhorrence be directed chiefly at our own indifference toward the things of God.


*Encounters with God (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 108.

**Ibid., 109.

Edwards abhorred moderation in religion.
One Comment leave one →
  1. July 9, 2009 6:45 am

    Great post, Ryan.

    Convicting and inspiring.

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