When I first started reading Edwards On The Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God I wondered what I got myself into. I wasn’t a big fan of Jonathan Edwards and was never really interested in the legacy of his theology. The further I read the more I understood what I was missing. Author Dane Ortlund unravels Edwards’ theology as he looks into how and why he saw the beauty of God. As we find out, Edwards should not be known only (maybe not at all?) for his fire and brimstone sermons. I found this to be a fascinating look into the life and teaching of Edwards and the foundation he has laid for us all.
In thirteen brief but well worked chapters Ortlund fleshes out the Christian life theology of Edwards as found in the beauty of God. He notes that
(T)the very first thing to be said about the Christian life is that for Edwards, beauty is what makes God God. “God is God, and distinguished from all other beings, and exalted above ’em, chiefly by his divine beauty.” Not sovereignty, not wrath, not grace, not omniscience, not eternity, but beauty is what more than anything else defines God’s very divinity. Edwards clearly believed in these other truths about God and saw all of them as upholding and displaying and connected to God’s beauty. Yet none of them expresses who God is in the way that beauty does. Dane C. Ortlund. Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God (Kindle Locations 319-324). Crossway.
We read that the beauty found in Christ is the central thrust of the book as we weave our way through all the chapters. The author covers a wide and necessary range of topics around this theme in Edwards’ theology. New birth, love, joy, gentleness, prayer and Satan are just a few of the chapter topics we find within these pages. All well researched and all well written.
Its worth noting that Ortlund does not have any hagiographic tendencies towards Edwards. The final chapter considers several of Edwards’s shortfalls, though, as the author reveals, they can be forgiven.
I enjoyed this book. I was reminded what the Christian life is all about and just how often I forget the truths Edwards spoke on so often. Compelling and engaging I would certainly recommend this work.