Subscribers receive full access to the archives. Log in to continue reading. I’m not here to judge anyone because they bought chocolate and toys for their kids. As such slavery ought now to be abolished from the Christian community. Edwards was sought out by Whitefield during Whitefield’s 1740 pass through New England. Information is scarce and while some of his personal slaves are mentioned in later documents, the name Venus is not mentioned. Are all of them together stronger than God? George Whitefield: Evangelist for God and Empire, by Peter Y. Choi. Mr. Whitefield, the famous … They sought to dismiss Doolittle on the basis of slave ownership while Edwards sought to defend him on the basis that it was not inherently wrong to make any slave “work without wages.”. George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, and Gilbert Tennent: "What the colonies had awakened to in 174o was none other than independence and rebellion." Otherwise the world becomes necessary even for God which undermines grace.). If there are, what would they be? Lecture IV - Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Mother Ann Introduction: the Great Awakening had a big if disputed effect on American religion. O be not weary of well doing! It would seem much more fitting and proper to acquiesce to all things in view of the fact that God has sovereignly predetermined them. Christian History: In America, in 1740, Whitefield was a religious phenomenon without equal. Edwards claims a creature formed it; it arose from a creature’s (Lucifer’s and later Adam’s) own nature. Without Whitefield the amazing phenomena of 1740–41 might never have come to pass. Thabiti Anyabwile, himself a present day Calvinist theologian, sums it up well, saying, “Edwards attempted to thread a needle between ending the Transatlantic slave trade, on the one hand, and supporting the domestic servitude of Africans on the other. The perennial question that plagues Calvinism and which Edwards must have wrestled with is: “What God has predestined, has he not more or less condoned?”, Indeed any true Calvinist who wants to distance himself from a particular societal evil and question its moral rightness, must somehow annul himself from all logic that would throw the question back into his face and force him to answer why its logically right to morally question and abhor what God has allegedly divinely determined. We still feel Whitefield's influence today. Historians agree that Whitefield’s pro-slavery campaigns and written pleas to the Georgia Trustees advocating for the necessity of slavery were instrumental in overturning the law of 1749, resulting in the enslavement of Blacks being reintroduced to Georgia in 1751. Jonathan Edwards, (born October 5, 1703, East Windsor, Connecticut [U.S.]—died March 22, 1758, Princeton, New Jersey), greatest theologian and philosopher of British American Puritanism, stimulator of the religious revival known as the “ Great Awakening,” and one of the forerunners of the age of Protestant missionary expansion in the 19th century. To be fair we can commend Whitefield in speaking out against the excessive mistreatment of slaves in his day and for promoting the belief that Black slaves also had souls of value and therefore should be evangelized and even educated (a progressive view in Georgia). It could be that upon discussions with Doolittle, Edwards was satisfied that his theology was not suspect. He did so on the grounds that slavery was antithetical to Christ’s death which procured freedom for all and his desire to have mercy on all–as taught in Arminianism. Strangely enough Edwards attempted to argue that while all men, including African slaves, are our equal neighbors and possibly even our equal brothers and sisters in Christ in the Kingdom of God, it was not at all sinful to use one’s African “neighbors’s work without wages” in a slave context. Dear Brother James, I want to prepare you for a visit from the Rev. The Bible says God alone is able to overcome all resistance. When A Word Is Worth A Thousand Complaints (and When It Isn’t), Why There Are So Many ‘Miraculous’ Stories of Bibles Surviving Disaster. Few figures, bar his friends, Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley, loomed as large in the history of transatlantic evangelicalism in the age of the Enlightenment as that of George Whitefield (1714-1770). In the letter a frail and sickly Wesley seeks to encourage his friend to stay the course and not give up on his mission to purge the British Empire of the sinful scourge of slavery. When he wrote the congregation in defense of Doolittle, he chided them for their hypocrisy, for condemning slavery but enjoying the fruits of slave economy. Well, I’m not saying he didn’t have a great mind. Massachusetts historian Minkema Kenneth explains: For example in examining Edward’s sermon notes for, “, The fact of the matter is that a Calvinist must shelve his belief about God’s unconditional, meticulous determination of all things in order to condemn any, On a side note, many have pondered why Edwards, who zealously opposed Arminianism, would be willing to come to the aid of a minister who was suspected of having Arminian leanings. I can identify with Charles Finney who said of Edwards “The man I adore; his errors I deplore.” It seems to me that many of Edwards’ fans (especially among American evangelicals) are too quick to pass over the obvious logical flaws in his theology. It is only fair to wonder if Edwards thought the same thing, for he did not own just one slave, he and his family owned numerous slaves. On the other hand, in the narrower perspective, God abhors them and commands creatures not to do them. Elevate the best storytellers & sages of the global church. We are reminded at that point of a statement of Perry Miller; I can’t remember where I read it now. Despite his many wonderful attributes, Edwards was staggeringly blind to how his life-long unapologetic support for domestic slave ownership was inconsistent with the Kingdom of God. Apparently neither Edwards nor Fuller saw any reason to think holding one’s neighbor or fellow Christian brother in human bondage was by its very nature antithetical to the Kingdom of God set forth in Christ’s words, “I have come to proclaim freedom to the prisoners… to set the oppressed free” (Lk 4:18). Not only does Heimert overthrow the old view that it … Why did he draw such huge crowds? As such slavery ought now to be abolished from the Christian community. Now don’t anyone say “Only in this creation; not overall or in general.” That won’t work. Cotton Mather told blacks they were the “miserable children of Adam and Noah, “for whom slavery had been ordained as a punishment.” . Asking someone to define Jonathan Edwards’ historical and theological legacy can vary from person to person. While there is much virtue in the man–well beyond my own–to be praised and admired, I find it interesting and a bit telling that leading Calvinists like Edwards as well as George Whitfield supported and defended America’s enslavement of Blacks and were totally blind to how such support was inconsistent and diametrically opposed to the character of God as revealed through Christ. Need I go on making my case that Edwards’ theology contains massive flaws? Apparently Edwards felt that such a change for the Black man in America was not yet upon the stage of the world, and therefore God’s predestination of the enslavement of the Black man was still in effect. And though it is true, that they are brought in a wrong way from their own country, and it is a trade not to be approved of, yet as it will be carried on whether we will or not; I should think myself highly favoured if I could purchase a good number of them, in order to make their lives comfortable, and lay a foundation for breeding up their posterity in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” , Like Edwards, Whitfield’s thinking was plagued with morally entangled inconsistencies that cannot be unraveled or justified. CTWeekly delivers the best content from ChristianityToday.com to your inbox each week. God simply “left ‘em to themselves” so that sin and evil followed inevitably or necessarily. It’s not just that God brings good out of them. Why have her be held in the grip of slavery up until his death? George Whitefield was an English Minster, evangelist, and preacher. Perhaps it’s fitting to simply state: It takes a hypocrite to know a hypocrite. This creation is necessary if God does not have libertarian free will which he cannot have if the concept itself is logically impossible (incoherent). It is speculative and dangerous. Great awakening preachers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield challenged puritan's beliefs by emphasizing their beliefs in the power … Compare and contrast Jonathan Edwards' view of God with George Whitefield's. But all things considered I think it is accurate to say the pioneers of abolitionism were largely Arminian–and we shouldn’t dismiss this as mere coincidence. So did Edwards and Whitefield. And why does God render sin and evil necessary? He and his wife Sarah had eleven children of their own. Subscribe to CT magazine for full access to the. Edwards and Whitefield were revolutionists during the … While I had long known that Edwards was the founder of Princeton, I was surprised to recently discover that he was also somewhat socially progressive for his time in advocating that Indians be compensated for land taken from them–which placed him in hot water with some of his New England parishioners. For many Calvinists such a question asks far too much of them to reflect upon. Whitefield’s defenders may counter that it is recorded that his slaves were devoted to him, or that Whitefield saw his role as their master as an opportunity to be their evangelist too. On the other, evangelical heroes including George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards have drawn a steady stream of visitors to their graves and other historical sites. Whitefield barely had the time to check the proof copies of manuscripts of his sermons and had the disappointment of seeing very poor versions of his sermons in print without his permission. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) One of Yale's earliest students was a brilliantly talented young man named Jonathan Edwards, one of the greatest minds America has ever produced. One observer wrote that when Whitefield spoke, one could feel authority, demonstration, life, and power in his voice. But the larger question I find myself pondering is, should it really be all that surprising to us that principal, Arminian leaders like Wesley, Asbury, Wilberforce and Finney opposed slavery–and did so on Arminian theological grounds? And herein is where the center of my critique will largely focus. As alluded to earlier, the question begs to be asked: How is it logically right for any Calvinist, like Edwards, to condemn what God has allegedly divinely determined? Through the awakening emerged the decline of Quakers, founding of colleges, an increase of Presbyterians, denomenationalism, and religious toleration. Magi, Wise Men, or Kings? On the other hand Edwards demonstrated an unnerving talent to be thoroughly inconsistent–for Edwards was also a slave owner! Because of their central role and importance, we shall limit our discussion here to Edwards (1703-1758) and Whitefield (1714-1770). Fourth, he was a social phenomenon. Whitefield drew upon themes (human depravity, perseverance of the saints) that resonated with many colonists. But that may be because he gave her a Christian name, or she could have died young while enslaved. Not so the name of George Whitefield. Like his contemporary and acquaintance, Jonathan Edwards, Whitefield preached staunchly Calvinist theology that was in line with the "moderate Calvinism" of the Thirty-nine Articles. Cotton Mather told blacks they were the “miserable children of Adam and Noah, “for whom slavery had been ordained as a punishment.”, To be fair we can commend Whitefield in speaking out against the excessive mistreatment of slaves in his day and for promoting the belief that Black slaves, In a day when a growing tide of moral conscientiousness began to call into question the morality of slavery, Whitefield actually traveled throughout Georgia advocating for slavery to be allowed to continue. A series of religious revivals swept through the colonies in the 1730s. First, Whitefield was a Calvinist, and the strongest theological tradition in the American colonies was Calvinism. Christian tradition finds meaning in each of these mysterious monikers. Unfortunately, some Christian biographers tend to provide… Five of the First Great Awakening's most important preachers were Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Theodore Freylinghuysen, and William and Gilbert Tennent. However at the end of the day Whitefield opted for moral and theological compromise because he felt the economy of Georgia needed the backs of slaves to hold it up. Is that the mark of a great mind? C. In 1749 slavery was indeed outlawed in Georgia, but Whitefield saw this as an economic travesty and intentionally campaigned for it to be legally legislated once, Like Edwards, Whitfield’s thinking was plagued with morally entangled inconsistencies that cannot be unraveled or justified. But he insisted that God is not guilty of sin or evil because…God’s motive in rendering them certain was good. December 28, 2020, Martin Glynn, No Comment, December 24, 2020, Remonstrance, No Comment, Copyright © 2013 | Not willing that any should perish, On the other hand Edwards demonstrated an unnerving talent to be thoroughly inconsistent–for Edwards was also a slave owner! Or, more charitably, Edwards saw the inconsistency of others more clearly than he saw his own in this case.” . This letter was written by Sarah Edwards, wife of Jonathan Edwards, to her brother, James Pierpoint of New Haven about the visit of the evangelist, George Whitefield, who came to Northampton in October, 1740.1 October 24, 1740. CTWeekly delivers the best content from ChristianityToday.com to your inbox each week. George Whitefield and Jonathon Edwards were people that spreaded ideas. Olson believes that Edwards has become the darling of Christian thought for many evangelicals due in no small part to receiving a “pass” on many of his unfortunate logical and theological blunders–not to mention his glaring hypocrisy in defending slave ownership. Whitefield's End If one says “from his nature,” then, with the denial of libertarian free will, God becomes a machine. But first a little disclaimer is in order. For example (and here you will have to trust me or look at my chapter on Edwards in The Story of Christian Theology and my many allusions to him and his theology in Against Calvinism): Edwards argued that God’s sovereignty requires that he create the entire universe and everything in it ex nihilo at every moment. They greatly underplay his contributions to science and philosophy and wrongly stereotype him as nothing more than a fundamentalist, hell fire and brimstone preacher during the First Great Awakening (1720–1740s). With that said, I find it somewhat troubling that Edwards has largely been given a pass on both his logical and biblical flaws in theology as well as his slave ownership. But the substantive meat of the article is Olsen’s keen insight in skillfully dissecting Edwards theology and reveals his logical inconsistencies and tantamount theological blunders that make his underlying theology wholly untenable for Christian thinkers to embrace. There is little else one can conclude from Edwards’ remarks. Learn more about Edwards in this article. I’m only saying that he either didn’t seem to notice his own contradictions or he chose to overlook them while vehemently pointing out and condemning contradictions he thought he saw in Arminianism. Welcome to Two-Handed Warriors! See: http://www.umcmission.org/Find-Resources/Global-Worship-and-Spiritual-Growth/The-Wesleys-and-Their-Times/Thoughts-Upon-Slavery, http://www.slavenorth.com/massachusetts.htm, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/journal.vi.xvi.v.html, http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/wesley/wilber.stm, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2012/07/why-is-jonathan-edwards-considered-so-great/, Remonstrance Minisode 31: The True Way of Keeping Christmas. If that’s true, then we cannot attribute it to God, either. Revivalist In 1734, Jonathan Edwards’s preaching on justification by faith ignited a spiritual revival in his church that eventually produced about 30 new converts a week. almost the whole assembly being in tears for a great part of the time.” … Having said all that, I still do not understand why so many of his fans overlook or excuse Edwards’ very significant errors. Mr. Whitefield, the famous […] There is no denying that Edwards was a towering force of intellectual influence in his day. He asks, “Is it… a crime for men to hold men in a condition where they labor for another without their consent or contract?” Fuller emphatically argues no, stating, “the crime is not slaveholding, but cruelty.” Fuller then goes on to astonishingly declare that nothing in the NT (regarding the inauguration of the Kingdom of God) argues against holding a fellow human being in bondage against his will, because slavery is not the right to cruelly abuse another. Edwards’ prayer request is noteworthy: Rev. I’m only saying that he either didn’t seem to notice his own contradictions or he chose to overlook them while vehemently pointing out and condemning contradictions he thought he saw in Arminianism. , Recently Roger Olson wrote a critique of Edwards legacy. In a day when a growing tide of moral conscientiousness began to call into question the morality of slavery, Whitefield actually traveled throughout Georgia advocating for slavery to be allowed to continue. The Calvinist doctrine of predestination easily supported the Puritans in a position that blacks were a people cursed and condemned by God to serve whites. Jonathan Edwards was the only son in a family of eleven children. There is no denying that Edwards was a towering force of intellectual influence in his day. American History: Influential Ministers — Jonathan Edwards. Jonathan Edwards, a brilliant preacher, pioneer in the Reformed Church, and major figure in the First Great Awakening, greatly influenced modern religion. We designed this site to foster conversation between educators, Hollywood professionals, students, business and faith leaders devoted to both spiritual formation and cultural engagement, both the Holy Spirit and the liberal arts: Anyone who aspires to be as ambidextrous in their leadership as Inigo Montoya was with his sword. While explicitly affirming God 's sole agency in salvation, Whitefield freely offered the Gospel , saying at the end of his sermons: "Come poor, lost, undone sinner , come just as you are to Christ ." While American revivalists such as Edwards and Gilbert Tennent … In 1749 slavery was indeed outlawed in Georgia, but Whitefield saw this as an economic travesty and intentionally campaigned for it to be legally legislated once again. Edwards wanted to get God off the hook for being the author of sin and evil, but ultimately he couldn’t. For Calvinists adopting inconsistent views that run afoul of God’s character is nothing new. Rather “slavery is bondage, and nothing more… only a right to his service without consent…” You can’t make this stuff up if you tried! Everything God does is necessary–including rendering sin and evil certain. Well, I’m not saying he didn’t have a great mind. He did not merely argue that libertarian free will as ability to do otherwise was lost in the fall; he argued that the very idea is incoherent. I believe there was theological contamination. B. Whitefield and Edwards both attempted to instill fear in their parishioners using images of hell fires. And punishes them with eternal suffering for doing what serves his glory and is necessary. That is to say that God withdrew or withheld the grace creatures needed not to sin. He and his wife Sarah had eleven children of their own.Though John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards were born the … The question that naturally arises is: from where did the first evil inclination come? Calvinism has long been criticized for its stiff-necked embrace of incoherent contradictions and inconsistencies concerning the character of God and then appealing to “inscrutable mysteries” every time they are challenged to unravel their self-contained conundrums. Lex Loizides. As such, who are you, a mere man, to do that? First, the very idea of libertarian free will is incoherent so even God cannot have it. George Whitefield And John Edwards Analysis Introduction Who are Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield? Though John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards were born the same year (1703) and admired each other’s evangelistic work, the two men never met. In addition, Edwards and Franklin may have been aware of each other’s work. As the conscience of North America became awakened to the evils of slavery and voices began to speak out against its insidious nature, Edwards strangely sought to defend it. Olson believes that Edwards has become the darling of Christian thought for many evangelicals due in no small part to receiving a “pass” on many of his unfortunate logical and theological blunders–not to mention his glaring hypocrisy in defending slave ownership. Edwards purchased one of his slaves, a 14 year old girl named Venus, from the captain of an African slave trader ship in New England. In attempting to pay God too many and too large metaphysical compliments, Edwards ends up chasing his tail and contradicting himself. Satan, Sin and Uncontrollable Blasphemous Thoughts This page in Portuguese With his contemporaries, John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield (1714-1770) completed the trio of men humanly responsible for the Great Awakening that turned both America and Britain back to God. Whether one can admit it or not, the fact is there is very little logical space Calvinism can offer by way of motivation and incentive to put to right the wrongs of the world. I believe so. George Whitefield 1739 It is not hyperbole to describe George Whitefield, the English clergyman who riveted colonists with his dramatic evangelical preaching, as a star Merely knowing about these evangelical “icons” was not enough It does not mean being able to do otherwise. 16 December] 1714 – 30 September 1770), also known as George Whitfield, was an Anglican cleric and evangelist who was one of the founders of Methodism and the evangelical movement. But it is more likely the case that Edwards felt so strongly that a congregational threat to a fellow minister on the basis of lavish living and slave ownership was a threat against his own livelihood as a slave owning minister. Fallacies of Calvinist Apologetics Series, Piper Theology Critique Series by StriderMTB, Question and Answer Series by Ben Henshaw, Seven Minute Seminary: “Wesleyan-Arminianism is a God-Centered, Not Human-Centered Theology”, VIDEO: Understanding Salvation with Bruxy and Nina Cavey, Video by Seth Miller: “Ask An Arminian: Total Depravity”, Video: Seven Minute Seminary: Larry Wood, “John Wesley’s Place in the Protestant Reformation”, Video by Seth Miller: “Ask An Arminian: My Story with Arminianism”, Roger Olson Video Lecture: “Calvinism Part IV: Final Evaluation of Calvinism”, Roger Olson Video Lecture: “Calvinism Part III: The Young, Restless, and Reformed Movement, Roger Olson Video Lecture: “Calvinism Part II: Tenets of Calvinism”, Roger Olson Video Lecture: “Calvinism Part I: History of Calvinism Among Baptists”, Is Everything that Happens God’s Will? Mark Noll: Let me suggest a few factors, not necessarily in order of importance. Browse 60+ years of magazine archives and web exclusives. Asking someone to define Jonathan Edwards’ historical and theological legacy can vary from person to person. Edward’s Calvinistic theology led him to believe that everything that occurs in the world is exactly as God predestined it to be–including slavery. How many white people have been destroyed for want of them, and how many thousands of pounds spent to no purpose at all?  But to be fair to Edwards his purchase of Venus was made in 1731 and presumably before he deemed the Transatlantic slave trade to be wrong. Perhaps it’s fitting to simply state: It takes a hypocrite to know a hypocrite. Edwards invited Whitefield to preach and reported, “The congregation was extraordinarily melted . For in Calvinism nothing can be said to be truly blameworthy because all things–including the evils of slavery–have been decreed by God for his glory. George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards (part 1) November 4, 2009. Though John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards were born the same year (1703) and admired each … Explain how the intellectual life of mid-18th century America accommodated all of these men. If they are determined by his wisdom and necessary for his glory, why would he abhore them? Christian History editors Kevin Miller and Mark Galli met with Dr. Mark A. Noll, McManis Professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton (Illinois) College, to discuss Whitefield’s impact. Whitefield was all life and fire, thunder and lightning. Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, First Great Awakening, New Light, Old Light, fire and brimstone Early U.S. Colonial Life Unit You look at the book and sigh. This article is originally published on the blog by StriderMTB, A Theology of Tension. Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758) was an American revivalist preacher, philosopher, and Congregationalist Protestant theologian. Jonathan Edwards Collection (97 sermons) George Whitefield Collection (59 sermons) J. C. Ryle Collection (90 sermons) Thomas Watson Collection (15 sermons) John Bunyan Collection (32 sermons) Samuel Davies Collection (66 sermons) J. C. Philpot Collection Roughly a hundred years later, this same absurd notion (forcing one’s neighbor to work without pay is not counter Kingdom) would be articulated by the prominent Calvinist minister, Richard Fuller, one of the principal founders of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845. Writing from Northampton, Massachusetts on December 14, 1740, Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) told his fellow preacher of the gospel—George Whitefield (1714-1770) about the revival at Northampton and asked him to pray for him. Christian preachers who attacked the state supported religion saying it got [Jonathan Edwards appears in church] 01:27 in the way of true faith the evangelical preachers said that religious experience 01:32 was all about being01:36 When he wrote the congregation in defense of Doolittle, he chided them for their hypocrisy, for condemning slavery but enjoying the fruits of slave economy. The Great Awakening refers to a number of periods of religious revival in American Christian history mainly between the periods of 1720 and 1740. What a flourishing country might Georgia have been, had the use of them been permitted years ago? What made Whitefield’s preaching tour so important was that it came during the height of several local revivals. to George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards. I am not troubled on the basis that Edwards’ sins and flaws have been forgiven by Christians today. Or, more charitably, Edwards saw the inconsistency of others more clearly than he saw his own in this case.”, While there is much virtue in the man–well beyond my own–to be praised and admired, I. find it interesting and a bit telling that leading Calvinists like Edwards as well as George Whitfield supported and defended America’s enslavement of Blacks and were totally blind to how such support was inconsistent and diametrically opposed to the character of God as revealed through Christ. It is impossible and indeed misguided to attempt to denounce the merits of Calvinism or extol the virtues of Arminianism, I would say not. He and his wife Sarah had eleven children of their own. "'Jonathan Edwards's Letter of Invitation to George Whitefield," ed. It’s Complicated. That came through in his published journals and in his preaching—especially when he cried, as he often did, for the spiritually lost. 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Human depravity, perseverance of the global church and while some of his personal ownership slaves. People to repent their sins and transmute their sinful ways and become preserved to.. To all things in view of other slave holders who saw the African Blacks as an people! 38: George Whitefield was a towering force of intellectual influence in his day is able to overcome resistance. Reveals that he was seemingly born with capital-C charisma, and that Edwards. To acquiesce to all things in view of other slave holders who saw the African Blacks an... For God and Empire, by Peter Y. Choi Edwards loved the pulpit, and found 1.!
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