Edwards’s Missionary Paradigm

Edwards’s missionary diamond has at least seven facets: theology, history, philosophy, pragmatics, practice, spirituality, and aesthetics.

Theology facet: “The work of making intelligent beings themselves holy and happy is the work of redemption, which includes preaching the gospel, the main missionary task.

History facet: “…emanated not only the well-known understanding of the role of providence in history and the recurring  interest in the conversion of the Jews, but also Edwards’s depiction of redemption as progressive, the knowledge of God as expanding, and the experience of God as enlargement.”

Philosophy facet: (One example) “Natural ability and moral inability came to been seen as the key to the issue of free will, making all responsible for their response to the offer of the gospel.”

On the Pragmatics plane: “The use of ‘means,’ which became integral to Protestant missionary strategy” Examples include prayer, as expounded in JE’s Humble Attempt (1748), the personal stories saints, as well as theological colleges “looked to by Edwards as potent instruments of Christian extension.”

Practice facet: (One example) “We observe the value attached to duty and the evidencing of conversion by fruit (rather than by profession).”

Spirituality facet: (Few examples) “Religious affections as critical to true religion; steering between rationalism and enthusiasm; the preference of the true saint for godly habit over spiritual ecstasy; the concern to foster exertion rather than experiences; the urgency to save from hell, understood as the horrific opposite to the unimaginable glory of heaven.”

On the Aesthetics plane: “The new language making abstractions tangible and reality felt; the predilection for identifying beauty with holiness; and the appreciating of God’s design, his schema, his plan.”

Edwards had a multi-faceted vision of God and therefore a belief in an intricate, comprehensive design that focused on fostering mission for the supreme end of glorifying God.

All quotes from Stuart Piggin, The Expanding Knowledge of God: Jonathan Edwards’s Influence on Missionary Thinking and Promotion.


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