Strobel’s Reinterpretation of Jonathan Edwards’s Theology

When I asked Kyle Strobel a couple years ago about his basic thesis in his Jonathan Edwards’s Theology: A Reinterpretation, here’s how he responded:

Every Edwards scholar wants to argue, in some way, that JE’s theology is governed by his trinitarian thought. The two key questions then are: What is Edwards’s trinitarian thought, and how does that inform his theological decision making. I argue that interpreters have failed to truly understand Edwards’s doctrine of the trinity, and because of that, there has been a failure to recognize how it governs his theology.

I argue for a top down reading of JE’s thought, such that you start with his doctrine of God, then move to look at his End for Which God Created the World and put that in parallel with his understanding of Heaven – and ultimately the beatific vision. These three categories, Trinity, Creation, and Heaven make up my heuristic key. You start with God, the fountain from which all else flows, and then you move to creation and its teleological orientation to God. I then apply this interpretive reading to spiritual knowledge, regeneration, and religious affection.

If you want to see how my model works itself out (at least a small segment of it) take a look at the new book coming out at the end of this month on Jonathan Edwards and Justification by Faith. I try to argue there that Edwards’s specific emphasis on the persons of the triune God orients his soteriology, and if you miss that, you end up missing his point.

Since the release of this new work (his doctoral thesis), I have come to appreciate the rigorous thoughtfulness and apologetic concern of Strobel, who has since written an Edwardsean vision of spiritual formation, a chapter on Edwards’s doctrine of Justification, and edited a new edition of Edwards’s sermon series, Charity and Its Fruits. I look forward to many more contributions by Strobel.


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