I would suspect the only thing more challenging than trying to read Jonathan Edwards is to write about him. This has not stopped people from taking up the challenge however. Jonathan Edwards is arguably the greatest mind America has ever produced. Consequently there is significant intrigue into his life and thought. Myself, I have read many books on the great pastor but my appetite is never satiated. I always want more. Whenever I hear of a new book on Edwards it seems to find its way to my Amazon wish list.
God’s Grand Design by Sean Michael Lucas was no different. I was eager to get my hands on this book because it endeavored to tackle the what Edwards believed and how he applied it. In other words, the theological vision of Edwards.
The book breaks into two easy sections: Redemption History and Redemption Applied.
Throughout the course of the book you will be guided carefully by a pastor-theologian who has lectured for many years on this very subject. This fact should not scare you off, instead, it should encourage you. The author takes a glacier and puts it in a tea cup. It is accessible, understandable, and simple. Lucas is a careful teacher, working hard to make difficult concepts clear. As an example, you have the whole business of religious affections. Edwards wrote this to think through and parse out was was truly wrought by God and what was spurious in the days of the Great Awakening. In this Lucas carefully guides you through the writing in light of history, other writers, and what Edwards himself wrote in other places. As someone who has enjoyed but not fully profited from Religious Affections, I was greatly aided here.
The two appendices are excellent. One serves as a reminder of the fact that Edwards was a normal guy (helpful). And the other is a comprehensive list and thoughts on helpful books related to Edwards.
I have read biographies that I wish had more of Edwards’ theological vision in it. This book by Lucas serves to fill that gap. I recommend it alongside of Marsden’s biography on Edwards (or the shorter one by the same author).
As I mentioned, I like Edwards a lot so it was not tough to get up for the book. At right about 200 pages it went too fast. I wanted it to keep going. I am not inclined to be liberal with the praise for authors but this was one of the best books I’ve read in awhile. Even if you are not a huge Edwards guy (or girl) you will be greatly edified by the arrangement of and interaction with the theology of Edwards.