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Freedom of the Will (The Works of Jonathan Edwards: With a Memoir of His Life and Character)

4.33  ·  Rating Details ·  590 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
"Considered by many to be the greatest book by enormously influential American preacher and theologian JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703 1758), this provocative 1754 work explores the necessity of God s grace for the salvaging of the damaged will of humanity and argues that free will is an extension of and connected to the grace of God. What is the nature of morality? Can God be evil ...more
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Published January 1st 2010 by MobileReference (first published January 1754)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,803)
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Mike Reynolds
Edwards excellently argues for the validity of Calvinistic theology. He demonstrates through cause and effect that the human will is not self-originating or self-determining; that God's foreknowledge demands determinism; that the present world is the best possible world for the purpose of the greatest possible good and that though God is the permitter and designer of sins existence He is neither the fountain, agent, or promoter of sin. His permission of sin is ONLY for the greatest possible good ...more
Don Incognito
Aug 19, 2016 Don Incognito rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This treatise is highly insightful, and stimulated me to consider ideas that had not occurred to me. However, due to the now-archaic language combined with the inherently abstract nature of the subject matter, Freedom of the Will is extremely difficult to read. A headache. Especially because Edwards spends probably half the essay (or more) defining terms. As Edwards is a metaphysician discussing abstract ideas here, it sounds like what I remember of the work of Gottfried von Leibniz when I read ...more
Brent McCulley
Oct 26, 2013 Brent McCulley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, favorites
Edwards was a wonderfully prolific theologian - surely America's greatest, and arguably the greatest of them all, and Freedom of the Will is not exempt from his theological genius. With someone who is also so well written, one could hardly call this his magnum opus (surely Religious Affections surpasses it), but notwithstanding, Freedom of the Will is a phenomenal treatise on God's divine foreknowledge, and sovereignty; human bondage, and volition; all the while serving as a forthright rebuttal ...more
Jim Robles
Aug 21, 2015 Jim Robles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remind the reader that I have a Cartesian epistemology, and that cognito ergo sum is an epistemological, not an ontological, statement. That I am res cogitans, I am sure. That I am res extensa, is something that, in conducting my day-to-day affairs, I accept as "reality," because it presents itself to me "with such force and clarity that I cannot deny it." Yet, I do not "know" with the same surety. Put another way, I am unable to (absolutely) refute Solipsistic knowledge claims, although at th ...more
Jun 21, 2012 Chuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
People make massive assumptions about what the will is and what condition it is in. Few have sought to define the issues and treat them biblically: Edwards has done both.
Kelvin Candelario
Hard read, page long sentences. But absolutely worth it to understand God's divine grace on our wicked desires.
Kirk Miller
Mar 07, 2015 Kirk Miller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely brilliant!

Not any easy read by any stretch of the imagination. But what is given up in ease of ready is made up for in philosophical precision and leaving no stone unturned.

I can see how JE could be misunderstood as advocating a rather mechanistic view of human volition since he does argue for determinism. But in my understanding, that would be to misunderstand the fundamental premise of JE's view--that man's volitions, BECAUSE THEY ARE TRULY THE VOLITIONS OF MAN, are absolutely neces
Lincoln Forlong
Aug 29, 2015 Lincoln Forlong rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An astounding read of unequalled logic, linear in its presentation and unparalleled in its spiritual depth.
While this is a seriously deep exploration of the human will which will appeal to few, it prooves to be wonderful soul food for the theologically hungry.
Due to the nature of the subject and the old english style of writing, this proves to be a more difficult read that takes a little commitment. However, as always with Jonathan Edwards, this read will not only broaden but deepen the readers
Jay Risner
May 27, 2009 Jay Risner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laying the smack down.
Jan 08, 2009 Rhonda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Jonathan Edwards is America's most precise and careful writer of theology. One can do worse than to spend the time plodding through his stodgy yet careful language in order to get to his points: they are very well made indeed.

I often find it a shame that readers of philosophy, especially those college sophomores who have read a short treatise from cheeky David Hume, do not go further and examine Edwards. It is true that Edwards isn't that much about tearing down the world, something which must a
Mike E.
Nov 18, 2013 Mike E. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jonathan-edwards
Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) polemical work "Freedom of the Will" was written to refute the dangers of Arminianism in colonial America and the world. The central issue was the nature of man’s will. According to Arminianism, and Edwards primary opponents, Daniel Whitby and Thomas Chubb, the will of every human was free, that is, each individual has his own self determining power, completely free from any antecedent cause and lacks any internal nature that is inclined to sway any motive, action or ...more
J. Rutherford
Apr 26, 2013 J. Rutherford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This book was a very hard read, both because of the thick content and Edwards use of page long sentences, but well worth it.
Edwards provides an in depth response to the challenges raised against the Calvinist idea of Total Depravity and the bondage of the will. It is still relevant today almost 300 years later, addressing much of what we see today in Arminian challenges to Calvinism (Chosen but Free, Geisler [technically Molinism, but it is really just a philosophically advanced framework d
Nathan Moelker
Nov 29, 2015 Nathan Moelker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent work which I would highly recommend. His language can be obtuse, but this book is an excellent exposition and defense of the doctrines of grace, particularly using philosophical terminology of necessity and contingency to show the folly of notions of the will as self-defining. Edwards proclaims the supremacy of God and his sovereignty, something that the church today needs to hear.
Jul 27, 2012 Nile rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it
First, I did not read this book in its entirety. I read about to the end of part 2. I felt that I got out of I all I can handle for the time being and I am going to dwell on this while I read other books.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and feel that it has really helped me understand the paradoxical coexistence of God's sovereignty and the decisions we make as humans. The best illustration posed, at least in aiding my understanding, is that of the will acting on what is most agreeable in any
Scott Roper
Jun 06, 2014 Scott Roper rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wonder if those wearing "Jonathan Edwards is my Homeboy" t-shirts have ever actually read him. Edwards writing is the exact opposite of John Owen. With Owen, if you blink, you miss at least one idea. Edwards, it seems, would never write one hundred words when one thousand would do. I found myself skimming if I got the idea of the argument from the first few sentences of a paragraph.

Putting his laborious writing style aside, there is not a whole lot to commend here. Edwards presents a mechanica
Simon Wartanian
Apr 23, 2015 Simon Wartanian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
It was definitely a very hard read for me. I've heard that Edwards is verbose and I think that it is right.
Besides the Bible there is not a book that I so carefully tried to understand, but yet not completely understand. But I'm thankful for Sam Storm's essay on Edwards titled "Free Will: Fettered Yet Free", helped me a lot to understand Edwards' concept of the Freedom of the Will. It was also hard because it was very highly philosophical, I'm used to reading books that have a lot of Scripture i
Alex Nolette
Dec 30, 2014 Alex Nolette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Certainly asks serious questions about the western world's views on the liberty of choices.
Feb 23, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just started this monumental work.
Jeremy Egerer
Nov 26, 2012 Jeremy Egerer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Almost absolutely sure, after reading this book, that Jonathan Edwards was the most brilliant thinker than America ever produced. Also somewhat strange realizing about a third of the way through the book that I'd unknowingly held so many Arminian positions -- until Edwards entirely demolished them.

A brilliant treatise of the liberty of man, the concept of the will, and the requirement of moral necessity for virtue. An A+ read, although extremely difficult.
Daniel Alvers
Jul 27, 2011 Daniel Alvers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Edwards is astonishing in this work and I will spend my life thinking and reading on these arguements. I am not sure they are even answerable. He so radiates the truth of scripture in such a profound way that you can't say much of anything. It feels as if no stone has been left unturned in the giant of a work. Everyone should read this volume and Luther's volume on the will as well.
Sergio Flores
Aug 05, 2013 Sergio Flores rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was definitely a challenge to read, one of he hardest ones I've ever read. The book is an attempt to solve the issue of free will between Arminianism and Calvinism. He does use a bit of philosophy and also quotes some of the big thinkers of that time but He does his best to convey lofty ideas in terms that most Christians can understand. This is a good book overall
Feb 27, 2010 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book! Jonatan Edwards was clearly an intellectual. I do, however, think the reader should remember that he is using one extreme (Calvinism) to argue against another extreme (Arminianism) neither of which I completely agree with. In parties of two different extremes arguing against each other, important info usually gets lost in the middle. Look at Congress!
Mar 05, 2014 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There really is no argument against this book. Edwards does a masterful job of tracing our actions, words, and thoughts back to the state of being of our heart. While he doesn't quite get into the Augustinian and WCF distinction of the various "levels" of the will's freedom, he nonetheless presents a solidly biblical perspective.
Michael Newton
This book is really good but is INSANE and takes a huge effort to understand what Edwards is saying half of the time. Between the time difference and the intensity of how strong and detailed he is in his thoughts and arguments they are really good. I started reading this to understand Edwards view on Salvation.
The best work I've ever read on the Calvinist view of the will. The hardest book I've read in a long time, too, but well worth it. Edwards doesn't just argue that maybe Calvinism isn't fatalism; he argues that it fits with reason and common sense, and Arminianism is the view that is contradictory and unnatural.
Alan Yau
A somewhat challenging read. A very in-depth defense/proof of the doctrine.
Bryce Lee
Nov 11, 2011 Bryce Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
A little hard to drag through, I find myself only reading a few pages at a time. Still, no one addresses the logical impossibility of a truly self-determining will better than John Edwards. Required reading for all . . . well . . . Christians!
Aug 27, 2013 Brian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In terms of theology, it receives high marks. Defending the biblical notion of total depravity is a worthy cause. In terms of readability, abysmal. I can see philosophy students engaging it but not laymen as this prose is damn near opaque.
Nov 08, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
It was a dense, philosophical read, but in the end was an incredible argument for God's sovereignty. I will probably have to read it again someday for a fuller understanding, but the 40% I digested was great.
John Yelverton
Nov 14, 2014 John Yelverton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a masterpiece for the argument for predestination. My only complaint, is that Edward's arguments are so "high brow" that many readers will be easily lost in the philosophical discussions.
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  • The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination
  • God's Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (with the Complete Text of the End for Which God Created the World)
  • The Doctrine of God (A Theology of Lordship)
  • The Death of Death in the Death of Christ
  • Willing to Believe: The Controversy Over Free Will
  • The Mystery of Providence
  • The Potter's Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and a Rebuttal of Norman Geisler's Chosen But Free
  • The Bondage of the Will
  • The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way
  • Summary of Christian Doctrine
  • Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper
  • The Existence and Attributes of God
  • A Body of Divinity: Contained in Sermons upon the Westminster Assembly's Catechism
  • A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times
  • Westminster Confession Of Faith w/ Catechisms (1646-7) (and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Directories for Public and Private Worship, Form of Presbyterial Church Government, the Sum of Saving Knowledge)
  • The Doctrines of Grace: Rediscovering the Evangelical Gospel
  • Redemption Accomplished and Applied
  • Van Til's Apologetic, Readings and Analysis
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database named Jonathan Edwards.

Jonathan Edwards was the most eminent American philosopher-theologian of his time, and a key figure in what has come to be called the First Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s.

The only son in a family of eleven children, he entered Yale in September, 1716 when he was not yet thirteen and graduated fou
More about Jonathan Edwards...

Other Books in the Series

The Works of Jonathan Edwards: With a Memoir of His Life and Character (5 books)
  • The Works of Jonathan Edwards: With a Memoir of His Life and Character, Volume 2
  • The Works of President Edwards: With a Memoir of His Life, Volume 2
  • The Works of President Edwards: With a Memoir of His Life, Volume 3
  • The Works of President Edwards: With a Memoir of His Life, Volume 5

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“Of all the knowledge that we can ever obtain, the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves, are the most important.” 102 likes
“That the Will is always determined by the strongest motive,” 0 likes
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