Brett Mclaughlin's Reviews > Standing In Grace: Jonathan Edwards's A Treatise On Grace (Great Awakening Writings

Standing In Grace by Jonathan Edwards
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Feb 04, 10

bookshelves: theology, philosophy
Read from February 02 to 04, 2010, read count: 1

Edwards most oft-referenced work on grace begins in a somewhat rambling and confusing fashion. Edwards muses on grace and how it connects to--later concluding that it in fact primarily is--the Spirit of God in the believer. The first 10 pages are loaded with some conflated terms: grace and the Spirit, grace and love, grace and graces, etc. Edwards doesn't lay out as clear a case as he does in many of his other writings for these conflations, and I believe that weakens the first section of this book.

However, reading on bears tremendous reward. The second section lays out Edwards' theology of the Spirit and the workings of grace in the believer in a clear, systematic fashion. He defines this grace as "special or saving grace" and delves into exactly what is nature (natural) and what is spirit (spiritual). Repeated readings are rewarded here; the language is typically Edwards: confusing at time, always wordy, and somewhat repetitive. However, Edwards frequently refers to Scripture and identifies the Spirit of God as grace and in fact the source of all other graces, such as hope, patience, and so forth.

It's the third and final section that is superb, though. Edwards considers the Spirit as equivalent to divine love. This stems initially from a close reading of love (sometimes "charity") in 1 Corinthians and its equivalence with Spirit in parallel passages and arguments from Paul. Edwards goes on, though: through careful Scriptural comparison, he argues that the Spirit is actually the Person embodying the love of the Father for the Son, and the love of the Son for the Father.

The revelation here is an elevation of the Spirit to a vital part of the Gospel and in fact to Christ's self-sacrifice. No longer is the Spirit merely the product of that sacrifice; instead, the Spirit is the love Christ demonstrated on the cross toward His Father, and His Father's love toward Jesus. The Spirit then becomes a vital part of the believer's life as it allows the believer to partake of that divine love and therefore love and Father and Son properly.

This isn't a better-known work of Edwards. It's in fact not that easy to find. However, it's excellent, and as for pneumatology, required reading.
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