REVIEW: Jonathan Edwards and Justification, ed. by Josh Moody

It’s no secret that there has been, in recent years, a great resurgence of interest in the theology of Jonathan Edwards.  Both academic tomes and largely accessible works abound about the man, his ministry, and his theology.  This is good news, in light of the fact that Edwards is arguably the greatest North American theologian in history, and perhaps the greatest overall thinker as well.

Continuing to push Edwardsian scholarship forward and refine both scholarly and popular understanding of the theology of Jonathan Edwards, Josh Moody, pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL, and Edwards scholar, has edited the recent Crossway Books release, Jonathan Edwards and Justification.

The book is a collection of essays by contemporary Edwards scholars seeking to correct some of the popular misunderstandings of Edwards’s doctrine of justification, as well as demonstrate how Edwards’s writing on justification contributes to the modern justification discussion and debate.  The Edwards scholars, their particular contributions, and brief statements of their purpose are as follows:

Introduction by Josh Moody

-A brief introduction to the matter at hand, along with introductory remarks concerning the scholarly contributions and the desired end of the volume.

“Edwards and Justification Today” by Josh Moody

-Moody argues for the importance of the contemporary study of Edwards’s doctrine of justification because it adds to and supports the Protestant Reformation understanding of the doctrine in creative terminology.

“By Word and Spirit: Jonathan Edwards on Redemption, Justification, and Regeneration” by Kyle Strobel

-Strobel relates Edwards’s doctrine of justification to his overall theology of redemption.  He gives special attention to the concepts of faith, imputation, union with Christ, and the Spirit’s presence in the work of redemption.

“The Gospel of Justification and Edwards’s Social Vision” by Rhys Bezzant

-Bezzant speaks about Edwards’s preaching as both designed to “revive and reform.”  He seeks to show the social impact of Edwards’s doctrine of justification when rightfully understood and embraced.

“Justification and Evangelical Obedience” by Samuel T. Logan, Jr.

-Logan here ties the discussion to the process of sanctification.

“Justification by Faith Alone? A Fuller Picture of Edwards’s Doctrine” by Douglas A. Sweeney   

-Sweeney engages some of Edwards’s lesser studied writings to demonstrate the full picture of Edwards’s doctrine of justification, with special attention given to his “stoutly anti-Catholic” position.

Overall, the book is likely to be of greater use to those more acquainted with Edwards’s writings.  Undoubtedly, many may benefit from the essays therein.  However, most of the discussions (as well as the footnotes) are written more toward the scholar-pastor and less toward the person simply generally interested in Edwards.  To the benefit of the scholar there is a great deal of interaction with both historical and contemporary Edwardsian scholarship for such a brief volume.

All said, I would strongly suggest this volume to any student or scholar of Edwards.  I would especially suggest it to those who have been led to believe, through certain scholarly efforts, that Edwards’s theology was closer to Catholicism than Calvinism.  The authors do an exemplary job explaining Edwards’s use of terminology and provide the larger context of many of Edwards’s oft misunderstood writings.  This is a needed and welcomed volume.  I certainly recommend it.

*A copy of the book was provided by the publisher, at no charge, for the purpose of review.  I was under no obligation to offer a positive review.

Book Details

Publisher: Crossway/Good News Publishers
Author: Moody, Josh (Editor); Bezzant, Rhys; Logan Jr., Samuel T.; Strobel, Kyle; Sweeney, Douglas A.
ISBN-10: 143353293X | ISBN-13: 9781433532931
Cover Type: Paperback
List Price: $17.99
BUY NOW at Westminster Bookstore$11.21 – 38% Off

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