Was Jonathan Edwards Cross-Centered?
Yesterday morning I received the latest addition to the growing stack of books written (at least in part) to defend centrality of the cross in the theology of Jonathan Edwards. These books could not come soon enough.
The latest is Craig Biehl’s The Infinite Merit of Christ: The Glory of Christ’s Obedience in the Theology of Jonathan Edwards (Reformed Academic Press, 2009). Biehl argues that Edwards’ focus on the work of Christ has been overlooked and neglected by modern academic revisionists, scholars more interested in Edwards’ philosophy than his exclusivist biblical theology. Decades of revisionist interpretations of Edwards’ Christology have left us with a “lopsided and inaccurate” interpretation of his works (pp. 5-6). Biehl sets out to refute this revisionist interpretation, and restore an accurate awareness of the centrality of the Christ’s work in Edwards’ thought.
Biehl writes in the intro:
“…from the time of his earliest sermons until the end of his life, the person and redemptive work of Christ were the foundation of Edwards’ Trinitarian theology. In this modest and narrow exposition of Edwards’ understanding of the merits of Christ’s obedience, I intend to show that this Christological and redemptive aspect of Edwards’ theology is central to his overall God-centered and Trinitarian thought and the key to understanding his view of the nature, purpose and acts of the Triune God. For the ultimate purpose of God to display and communicate His glory is accomplished through the person and redemptive work of Christ.” (p. 20)
Biehl writes in the conclusion:
“The center of Jonathan Edwards’ theology is the person and meritorious work of Christ in redeeming sinners, in perfect and free obedience to God’s unalterable rule of righteousness, in the accomplishment of the ultimate Trinitarian purpose of the display and communication of God’s glory. Such is both the foundation and unifying thread throughout his writings. Indeed, it is difficult to conceive of any aspect of Edwards’ thought that is not directly or indirectly dependent upon or related to the person and work of Christ in His accomplishment of God’s ultimate purpose.” (p. 249)
Further evidence that Jonathan Edwards’ worldview was thoroughly Christ-centered and cross-centered.
Related post: The Cross in the Preaching of Jonathan Edwards