Whitefield was all life and fire, thunder and lightning. When Whitefield ... To continue reading, subscribe now. Given a belief in God’s predestination of all things, what other logically consistent conclusion can be drawn if you were a Calvinist in that day? Truth be told, the mid-1700s were years of great spiritual awakening and as the movement began to spread critics of slavery began to draw upon it as a foretaste of the glorious Kingdom to come–a Kingdom in which slavery had no place. Jon Harris explains how historiography factors into the social justice movement, exposes the dangers of presentism, and surveys the beliefs of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield … There is no denying that Edwards was a towering force of intellectual influence in his day. However this is simply not true. 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. (For the full article please go, For example (and here you will have to trust me or look at my chapter on Edwards in, In attempting to pay God too many and too large metaphysical compliments, Edwards ends up chasing his tail and contradicting himself. The world is the way it is because God predestined it so. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2018 (xvi + 252 pp). And punishes them with eternal suffering for doing what serves his glory and is necessary. 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. George Whitefield was an English Minster, evangelist, and preacher. We cannot press this point too strong. Sadly such divine tenants are glaringly absent in Calvinist theology. That led to a huge crowd trying to fit themselves into the old brick church that Whitefield was preaching in. He and his wife Sarah had eleven children of their own. 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. Which great revival preacher in the 1700s founded an orphanage in Georgia? B. Whitefield and Edwards both attempted to instill fear in their parishioners using images of hell fires. (For the full article please go here.). But he insisted that God is not guilty of sin or evil because…God’s motive in rendering them certain was good. . Perhaps it’s fitting to simply state: It takes a hypocrite to know a hypocrite. Dear Brother James, I want to prepare you for a visit from the Rev. Now don’t anyone say “Only in this creation; not overall or in general.” That won’t work. 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. For example in examining Edward’s sermon notes for, “Christian Liberty” Minkema Kenneth notes that Edwards opening sentence originally stated that when the Messiah came “he should proclaim a universal liberty to all servants, slaves, captives, vassals, [and] imprisoned [or] condemned persons.” But before he stood up to deliver his sermon Edwards evidently had second thoughts and “went back and, in an apparent tactical withdrawal, deleted the word “slave” from this litany. Dear Brother James, I want to prepare you for a visit from the Rev. The Great Awakening refers to a number of periods of religious revival in American Christian history mainly between the periods of 1720 and 1740. And yet, creatures are to blame for sinning even thought they could not do otherwise. He has published Jonathan Edwards and the Church (OUP, 2014), Edwards the Mentor (OUP 2019), has translated Martin Luther: A Late Medieval Life (Baker, 2017), and written on the identity of George Whitefield. Well known Calvinist Puritan, Cotton Mather, certainly thought so for any Black slave that desired their (unordained) freedom, saying, “And it is pride that tempts slaves to desire the freedom God did not ordain for them.” [1]. But history is history and it reveals that he was at odds with certain members in his congregation over his personal ownership of slaves. The following is a section of Olson’s critique. O be not weary of well doing! First, the very idea of libertarian free will is incoherent so even God cannot have it. It could be that upon discussions with Doolittle, Edwards was satisfied that his theology was not suspect. C. Franklin and Whitefield knew one another. . What a flourishing country might Georgia have been, had the use of them been permitted years ago? As such, who are you, a mere man, to do that? So did many of America’s founders, like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Free will, according to him, only means doing what you want to do–following the strongest inclination provided to the will by the affections. Edwards was a pastor whose sermons and writings covered an array of subjects/ Whitfield stuck to the basic Gospel message. Cotton Mather told blacks they were the “miserable children of Adam and Noah, “for whom slavery had been ordained as a punishment.” [14]. Posted in Calvinism, Edwards, Jonathan, Ethics, Holiness, Olson, Roger, StriderMTB. All of those ideas can perhaps be dismissed as the speculations of a mind obsessed with God’s greatness, glory and sovereignty. In New England under Jonathan Edwards, in Pennsylvania and New Jersey under William and Gilbert Tennent, and in Virginia under Samuel Davies, these awakenings led to many converts. 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. 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. Sign Up For Our Newsletter The perennial question that plagues Calvinism and which Edwards must have wrestled with is: “What God has. 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 ." More on this soon. 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. This leads to another issue, and that is Edwards’ theologically bankrupt position in condemning the Transatlantic slave trade. 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. Whereas America’s public educational sector underplays Edwards legacy, I believe many Christians–particularly Calvinists–overplay his legacy as being the height of godly virtue and a figure whose life and theology ought to be emulated and followed. It is not my intention to disparage Jonathan Edwards or smear his reputation. Christian History: In America, in 1740, Whitefield was a religious phenomenon without equal. 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. How many white people have been destroyed for want of them, and how many thousands of pounds spent to no purpose at all? There is no doubt Edwards was a great man, a loving father, passionate pastor and a devoted follower of the Lord who faithfully served God in his generation. God, too, is controlled by his strongest inclination/motive. Issue 38: George Whitefield: 17th c. Preacher & Revivalist, 1993, George Whitefield & His World: Recommended Resources. Edwards, more realistically, had to allow that “things” were not yet “settled in peace,” and so the fallen world’s order, which for him included slavery, was still in effect.” [5]. 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. After acquiring his own plantation and buying numerous slaves Whitefield became one of the most vocal proponents to reintroduce slavery to Georgia after it was banned. There is no denying that Edwards was a towering force of intellectual influence in his day. And the fall becomes not only inevitable but necessary. Edwards claims a creature formed it; it arose from a creature’s (Lucifer’s and later Adam’s) own nature. Olson also rightly argues that while the American public school system has wrongly downplayed Jonathan Edwards contributions, American evangelicalism has overblown his legacy as being America’s greatest preacher and theologian that we should emulate and follow. Compare and contrast Jonathan Edwards' view of God with George Whitefield's. How many white people have been destroyed for want of them…”, In contrast to Whitefield, John Wesley, who also lived in Georgia for a time always opposed slavery and called America’s enslavement of the Blacks, “that execrable sum of all villanies.” [16]. 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. 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 so the name of George Whitefield. It would seem much more fitting and proper to acquiesce to all things in view of the fact that God has sovereignly predetermined them. So, sin and evil are necessary and serve God’s glory. Not so the name of George Whitefield. In fact within a few short years in 1744, “a number of his parishioners insisted upon an account of his own expenditures, an action suggesting the jealousy and resentment aroused by the family’s taste for jewelry, chocolate, Boston-made clothing, children’s toys—, Strangely enough Edwards, the voice of America’s spiritual awakening, sought to defend America’s domestic slavery of Africans, “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. Rather I am troubled by the fact that few pause long enough to consider the strong possibility that Edwards’ Calvinistic, theological determinism may have exerted a strong influence on his decision to unapologetically defend slave ownership–or at minimum blinded him to the horror of being complicit in such a social evil. $24.00 softcover Good biographers faithfully present all the facets of the person they are studying. 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! The best content from ChristianityToday.com to your inbox Christian community grip of slavery up until his?. “ what God has sovereignly predetermined them 12 min read slave owner theological tradition in the of! Using images of hell fires name, or she could have died young while enslaved,,! 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