29 May 2014

Theology for Life

Thrilling to see the new theological education web platform uniontheology.org, which has just launched and is being overseen by our brother Mike Reeves of WEST. Get to know Mike a bit through this 9Marks interview, back when he was head of theology at UCCF.

I had the privilege of contributing to the new platform a short piece on Jonathan Edwards' view of sanctification. Though I was invited to do it last year, in rereading it I was struck by how relevant the essay is for current confusion and discussions about how Christians grow. I hope it helps people. We have so, so much to learn from Edwards and the great saints who have gone before. How impoverishing to neglect church history. 

A fuller enjoyment of Edwards' theology of Christian living will be released in August by my favorite publisher (who also very kindly provides my paychecks). More on that later. I mention it now to say that if you find help in the essay you may want to consider ordering the book and thereby supporting said publisher!

Here is a compelling articulation from Mike on the need and vision for Union.


pilgriminconflict said...


Thank you for writing and using the gifts God has given you to edify others. I've followed your blog for some time now and often wish that you post more often than you do but I guess it makes me better appreciate when a new post pops up! =)

I found your essay tremendously helpful in summarizing and commending the Edwardsean vision of sanctification.

I would like to ask you about one thing you wrote:

"In Religious Affections Edwards would still be saying things like, '’Tis not God’s design that men should obtain assurance in any other way, than by mortifying corruption, and increasing in grace, and obtaining the lively exercises of it' (WJE 2:195)."

Do you view this statement by Edwards as unbiblical in any sense? Maybe I'm reading you wrong, but it sounds to me like you're implying that it is. If so, couldn't one deduce what Edwards is saying from texts like Romans 8:13-14, 2 Peter 1:5-11, and Hebrews 3:14 just to cite a couple of examples? Seems like these and other NT texts point toward assurance being found in the course of running the race and not so much in simply focusing on Jesus (which, technically, one could do while standing still).

To be sure, it's not an either or since Hebrews 12 makes it clear that we run the race with eyes fixed on Jesus. So, in a sense, it's actually not possible to truly look at Jesus and just stand still. Which I'm sure Edwards would agree with and is probably a logical deduction from his vision of sanctification that you've outlined.

The reason I bring this up is because when I read a statement like the one you quoted by Edwards, I hear what seems to me like NT overtones even though in such places Edwards doesn't make looking to Jesus explicit.

My guess is that you're just trying to make explicit what Edwards probably takes for granted in such parts of his writing, which is definitely a good thing! But I don't want to make any assumptions, which is why I wanted to ask you.

Thanks again for writing, brother. God's blessings to you!

Dane Ortlund said...

Thank you my brother.

I do agree that there is right and biblical to grow and to draw strength from one's growth. Bu taking Edwards' work as a whole, he underemphasized looking out of oneself to Christ and overemphasized looking inside t one's growth. Bless you.