Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stalking Jonathan Edwards

Hmmmm... can one really stalk a person long since gone to his Reward?  I guess then it is called research.  I don't know as I have been fascinated with Edwards for years and years in such a way that one could call it stalking.

What made it somewhat easy to search out knowledge about Jonathan Edwards was the 2003 celebration of his 300th birthday.  

My favorite period of history, the one in which I have returned over and over again, is the time surrounding the American Revolution.

It was in these studies that I began to hear the name Jonathan Edwards quite often.  I had known him only by his famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God".  It was often stated that Edward's (along with Whitefield and others) and the first Great Awakening was influential to the Revolution.

{Speaking of which, my young Indian-as-in-the-country-India friend (whose place card I made certain was next to mine at the wedding rehearsal dinner) asked me such a lovely question, "So, what have you been reading?".  Yes, he does know me.  When I told him I was reading books about Edwards, he said he had to read that sermon in high school!  But I digress, as usual...}

My recent obsession began innocently enough a few years ago when I was visiting Stephanie and perused her bookshelves (which, like me, are in multiple rooms even though they transformed their formal dining room into a library).  The shelves holding Stephanie's personal favorites had a copy of Noel Piper's Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God.

I scanned over the pages and curled up to read the first chapter, which was about Sarah Edward's... wife of Jonathan.  That chapter is subtitled "Faithful in the Mundane".  Upon reading about Sarah, not only did she become a hero to me but I knew how Jonathan Edwards became such a great man of God!  I have gone back and re-read that chapter over and over since I swiped borrowed the book from Stephanie.

It was David McCullough who has said quite often he chooses the next subjects for his writing as a result of something (or someone) he has learned about from his previous research.  In the same way, I learned about the biography of Jonathan and Sarah called Marriage To a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan & Sarah Edwards by Elisabeth Dodds (the paperback copy contains a forward by John & Noel Piper).

I've talked about this book before but it is a fabulous book, one of my all time favorite biographies, about Jonathan and Sarah which gives us insight into their family and what life was like in New England prior to the American Revolution.

Dodds not only shares the life story of the Edwards in such a way that we can't wait to see what happens next but she goes on to share how this family went on to affect America in a positive way for decades thereafter.

While both of these books have been with me for years, the next two books were purchased for the Kindle with credit (because of YOU!).  Thank you, again for entering Amazon through my widget or even the widget of blog friends (who also need blessed).  ;)

Both the Kindle biographies were started in February or March but I had to set them aside the closer we got to the wedding and finished them in June.  The first book I read was John Piper's God's Passion for His Glory which gives a little of Edward's biography but is mostly about Edward's famous sermon called The End For Which God Created the World (the first half is Piper's writing and the second half is the full sermon).

It is a little theologically deep from time to time but well worth reading if you are interested in Jonathan Edwards.    Piper has also written a biography called A God-Entranced Vision of All Things, which I also plan to read.

Through John Piper's book I learned about the exhaustive biography of Edwards written for his 300th anniversary by George Marsden titled Jonathan Edwards: A Life.  Fortunately, Marsden also wrote a smaller (and easier to read) book called A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards, which is what I read.

I absolutely loved A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards!  Marsden compares the lives of Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin, both of whom were raised in Christian homes but one remained with the Faith and became the most famous theologian of the time while the other chose to follow the teaching of "The Enlightenment" brought over from Europe.

Much the same way Marriage to a Difficult Man brought us into the New England of the 18th century, this book also gives a background of America prior to the Revolution.  However, it goes a step further to describe what is happening in Europe at the same time and how that is affecting the future of America.  This is the only Kindle book I've read that I plan to purchase as a real life hands on book!  It was fun to read and very interesting.

I'm only taking a break from stalking Edwards, I hope to pick it up again by autumn.  There are a few more books I want to read and each gives a different insight into this fascinating man and his family.


Vee said...

Now a lot of godly women have been married to difficult men, haven't they? I can think of a number right off the top of my head. I, too, have read "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." It was something! Whitefield traveled all through my corner on horseback preaching in a number of churches and meetinghouses to which I can point. Believe me, I get a thrill just thinking of it. We need more people like this who are willing to take up the hue and cry. It won't be the likes of some of the current preacher types who spout philosophy, psychology, and the current trends in religiosity. It'll be men and women like those of old, who know the Word. And let it be soon, Lord, let it be soon.

I'm going to have to look into this further...don't you just know that you always do that to me.

matty said...

Jonathan Edwards is wonderful! He is an amazing man and had such an insightful way of looking at God. I am sure you have read how, when he gave the "Sinners" sermon, that he delivered it in no more than a whisper and that the women and men listening wept loudly, screamed, and collapsed! Such a powerful speaker! If you get a chance, search for Billy Graham and the "Sinners" sermon. He recorded it a few years ago and it is Unbelievable!

I can't wait to see what more you learn about this fascinating man! (And now I have another book to read! Thanks! LOL)

Heather L. said...

Thanks for the recommendation! Have just placed the last book on hold.

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

You have mentioned this before and I was delighted to find that Marriage to a Difficult Man is in our local library. I just ordered it, and am very eager to have a chance to read it.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Great reviews! What an amazing man and woman to stalk!

I really want to read Marriage to a Difficult Man...I've heard only great things about it. I am so far behind on all my reading!

Thanks for the great inspiration!


Cheryl (Copperswife) said...

My husband bought me a copy of Marriage to a Difficult Man a couple of years ago for Christmas. We had great fun teasing him about his selection! It was a wonderful book. What a faithful woman Sarah Edwards was.

Heather said...

Excellent reading suggestions. I also really enjoyed Noel Piper's short biographies of those godly women. I need to re-read it again, it's been a while.
Love how you found a good subject and read widely. :)
on a different subject, I came across this post and instantly thought of you and your pantry posts. :)

Branch Living said...

Thanks for these recommendations! Will add them to my ever-growing list!