By Robert W. Jenson
Very much has lately been written approximately Jonathan Edwards. such a lot of it, although, doesn't make relevant Edwards's personal purpose to talk fact approximately God and the human scenario; his systematic theological purpose is appeared basically as an old phenomenon. during this publication, Robert Jenson offers a unique kind of interpretation, asking not just, "Why was once Edwards great?" but additionally, "Was Edwards right?" As a scholar of the guidelines of Newton and Locke, Jenson argues, Edwards was once a great deal a determine of the Enlightenment; yet not like such a lot different american citizens, he was once additionally a discerning critic of it, and used to be in a position to use Enlightenment concept in his theology with out yielding to its mechanistic and individualistic traits. on my own between Christian thinkers of the Enlightenment, Edwards conceived an authentically Christian piety and an artistic theology no longer regardless of Newton and Locke yet by way of advantage of them. Jenson sees Edwards's realizing as a thorough corrective to what dedication to the Enlightenment caused in American existence, spiritual and differently. maybe, Jenson proposes, restoration of Edwards's imaginative and prescient may make the mutual decision of yankee tradition and American Christianity extra fruitful than it has but been.
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23 Much evil would have been avoided. Edwards' answer is again beautifully Calvinist: the history between the first creation and the end is needed in order that all God's glorious attributes may be displayed, and the creature, whose happiness is the beholding of God, not left in an incomplete blessedness. "Without [a period of testing] there would not properly have been . . a divine moral government over intelligent creatures. . " 24 The glory of God simply is such as to be only historically communicable.
26 Masses thus accounted for, their motion is quickly incorporated into the scheme. Motion is "the communication of this resistance, from one part of space to another successively," and is therefore equally God's immediate act. " The laws of motion are but the regularities of God's spatial resistance-setting. " 27 There is instead the harmony of God's "immediate," that is, personally present, agency. If God's triunity is the harmony of what God is, the laws of motion are a harmony of what he does.
Just how are created souls immortal? No fully Christian answers to such questions were ever devised, but workable approximations were. The contradiction finally became disastrous only when the reality also of Newton's masses in motion was unquestioningly guaranteed by regarding even these as substances. Christianity can do nothing with a world of rule-obeying, acting and reacting things, when these are taken to be timelessly self-contained. "Substance" is a God-concept. In older Christian thought, its use of others than God was tolerable, since all remained within the economy of history and its personal agents, open and correlated to the gospel's active and purposeful God.