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Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience (1 Peter 3:15b-16a ESV)

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7/08/2004

This Week in Church History 

July 8, 1741

Jonathan Edwards was one of the most influential theologians of his day. His writing influenced preachers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and helped to fuel the Second Great Awakening, just as he was influential in the First. Today, though, marks the anniversary of his preaching a sermon that was highly uncharacteristic of him.

"All you that never passed under a great change of heart by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin...you are thus in the hands of an angry God; 'tis nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction."


Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God is often cited as an example of fire-and-brimstone preaching that characterized the Great Awakening, not to mention the preaching of modern-day backwoods fundamentalists. Few people realize that the sermon was, in fact, an exception for Edwards.

Jonathan Edwards wrote books on science and nature. He wrote and preached logically and systematically. Later theologians would list the study of his books as a requirement for revival. And yet, as Sinners shows, he was perfectly capable of letting people know in no uncertain terms what their spiritual condition was, and what they needed to do about it. He was the personification of Evangelical Calvinism for later evangelicals (Presbyterian AND Baptist) who were confronted with growing hyper-Calvinistic opposition to evangelism. His works are still widely available, and there is currently a resurgence in the reading and study of this most influential man.

"Therefore let everyone that is out of Christ now awake and fly from the wrath to come."


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