Parallel sessions Wednesday, July 5th

Parallel session 2

Room: LCCS 0101 *Vlastuin
11:00 – 11:30Clinton Manley: Misenchantment and the Edwardsian Imaginary.
Go to abstract
11:30 – 12:00Chris Chun: William J. Wainwright on Edwards’s understanding of human spirituality and rationality.
Go to abstract
Room: LCCS 0102 *Beck
11:00 – 11:30T. Wyatt, Reynolds: By Nature and By Right: Jeremiah Evarts, Edwardsian Theology, and the Spirit of Transatlantic Evangelical Activism, 1811-1831.
Go to abstract
11:30 – 12:00Christian Cuthbert*: Spirituality as Global Participation: Edwards on Spiritual Duties in a Time of War.
Go to abstract

Parallel session 3

Room: LCCS 0101 *Sweeney
15:00 – 15:30Vienna Scott: Mysticism Moves Through History: Sarah Pierpont Edwards, The Kinesthetic Imagination, and Revival Bodies.
Go to abstract
15:30 – 16:00Aza Goudriaan: Dutch Backgrounds of New England Covenant Theology? Charles Hodge on Marckius, De Moor, and Vitringa.
Go to abstract
Room: LCCS 0102 *Stievermann
15:00 – 15:30Karsten Schmidtke: Jonathan Edwards: Rationality and Spirituality: His Understanding of Conviction of Sin.
Go to abstract
15:30 – 16:00Victor (Xinping) Zhu: Seeking the Veiled God: Jonathan Edwards and the Chinese Philosophical Classics.
Go to abstract


Clinton Manley: Misenchantment and the Edwardsian Imaginary.

In his most famous sermon, “The Weight of Glory”, C.S. Lewis proclaims that “you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years.”1 Lewis and the rest of the Inklings were determined to fight back against the misenchantment of modernity — the naturalistic, mechanistic, deistic darkness that had descended on the West through the Enlightenment. However, well over a hundred years before this coterie of incendiaries, Jonathan Edwards cast that “strongest spell.”

Jonathan Edwards championed a God-enchanted vision of reality that dispels the misenchantment of modernity. His vision — which may be dubbed the Edwardsian imaginary — systemized an ancient picture of the cosmos that sees creation as communication through and through, radiant with the beauty of God. Edwards demonstrated that God created the world to emanate his Trinitarian fullness, and so, the telos of all creation is knowing, enjoying, and participating in that triune glory. Thus, in the Edwardsian imaginary, God continually acts, speaks, delights, and emanates beauty.

In direct conflict with the numinous consciousness of Edwards, the modern vision of reality is the consequence of a collection of ideas that culminated in the Enlightenment. This dark spell of misenchantment presents the world as anthropocentric, unmagical, and mechanistic, and as a result, creation is muted and misused.

Edwards, like Augustine before him and the Inklings after him, intentionally battled that God-distancing, human-exalting picture of the world. For Edwards, creation is thick with the glory of God and alive with the magic of the Trinity. Thus, the Edwardsian imaginary wars against the sense of disenchantment that dominates the modern mind — and so, modernity desperately needs the vision of Edwards!

Go back to schedule parallel session 2

Chris Chun: William J. Wainwright on Edwards’s understanding of human spirituality and rationality.
In Reason and the Heart: A Prolegomenon to a Critique of Passional Reason (Cornell University Press, 1995), William J. Wainwright employs a peculiar example, “Fire engines are red” to analyze what he sees as Jonathan Edwards’s unreliable notion of “truth cannot be established without their help.” He does not think such a way of perception meets the epistemic standard for belief. In a like manner, Wainwright further critiques Edwards because a perceiving agent may be able to “apprehend the redness of a table without apprehending that the table is red.” In this essay, I will assess Wainwright’s understanding of Edwards’s human spirituality and rationality by evaluating if illustrations like these are indeed a correct depiction in Edwards’s thinking, as well as gauge if Wainwright is reading Edwards accurately, especially when dealing with the “Sense of the Heart.” 

Go back to schedule parallel session 2

T. Wyatt Reynolds: By Nature and By Right: Jeremiah Evarts, Edwardsian Theology, and the Spirit of Transatlantic Evangelical Activism, 1811-1831.

Despite a reputation for being either socially regressive or inactive during the early nineteenth century, proponents of the Edwardsean tradition developed a tripartite program of activism centered on missionary work, abolitionism, and anti-Indian removal activism. This tripartite form becomes clear when we examine the career of Jeremiah Evarts. Evarts first worked as the editor of the Panoplist and Missionary Herald, a newspaper closely affiliated with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. In his newspaper, Evarts republished a version of “Sarah Pierpont Edwards experience” from the first Awakening prior to its widespread circulation. During his time as treasurer of the ABCFM, he was also a key supporter of the Foreign Mission School at Cornwall. Finally, as Correspondence Secretary of the ABCFM, he marshalled white allies to rally and petition against Indian removal. Throughout his career, he was in consistent correspondence with leading abolitionists across the Atlantic world. Using Evarts as a lens into their world, this essay will argue that for third generation Edwardsians, these three modes of social activism were inseparable and connected not only those Americans influenced by Edwards, but also a broader world of Evangelical Edwardsians in the United Kingdom and stretching to communities in France and Switzerland. This early Evangelical activism was firmly rooted in both Edwards spirituality and rationality. Evarts’s particular radicalism can be seen in the high regard he held Native Americans, arguing that once converted to Christianity there were no cultural, theological, or moral barriers to interracial marriage. Learning via Samuel Hopkins, Timothy Dwight, and other Edwards students, Evarts was firmly within the mainstream of those who continued to follow Edwards even as the Second Great Awakening unfolded around them.

Go back to schedule parallel session 2

Christian Cuthbert: Spirituality as Global Participation: Edwards on Spiritual Duties in a Time of War.

Edwards ministered within the orbit of the British Empire during a time of extended conflict with Catholic France and Spain between 1739 and 1756. Many of these conflicts were fought in the Caribbean (War of Jenkin’s Ear), the continent (War of Austrian Succession), and even within Britain (The Jacobite Rebellion) as well as along the Connecticut River Valley (King George’s War). When Britain triumphed, as in the battle of Dettignen (June 1743), Edwards considered it Northampton’s triumph; when Britain was defeated, as in the battle of Falkirk (January 1746), Edwards considered it Northampton’s loss. Despite the distance from the conflict, Edwards exhorted his congregation to various “spiritual duties” which allowed one to participate in the outcome of events across the globe and even participate in the outcome of the ultimate conflict between Christ and the antichrist.

Drawing on Edwards’s war time sermons (some awaiting publication in my forthcoming collection), this paper will demonstrate how Edwards framed global participation in military conflict through specific spiritual duties: personal awakening, praise and thanksgiving, and especially prayer. These spiritual duties, according to Edwards, put persons and societies “in the way of God’s blessing” that manifests itself, among other ways, in warfare. This brand of evangelical spirituality reaches beyond personal piety and beyond corporate revival; it connects individuals, congregations, and nations with God’s cosmic purposes. His sermons on warfare provide a helpful window through which one can examine Edwards how Edwards’s prescription for spirituality participates in global events, particularly warfare. 

Go back to schedule parallel session 2

Vienna Scott: Mysticism Moves Through History: Sarah Pierpont Edwards, The Kinesthetic Imagination, and Revival Bodies.

In the wake of the Civil War, amateur historian Amos Delos Gridley published a collection of Sarah Pierpont Edwards’ letters and private diary entries in the journal Hours at Home. Taken by many in subsequent years to be the true diary, even cited in scholarship on Jonathan Edwards, the recent discovery of Sarah Pierpont Edwards’ true diary alongside an examination of the internal inaccuracies in Gridley’s version proved them false. Gridley’s set were charming ruminations on the New England countryside, young love, and American history. Sarah’s true diary revealed a young woman deeply and passionately in love with God to the point of physical agitations, convulsions, leaping, loud-talking, and other trappings of mystical piety.

When one thinks seriously about the nexus between rationality and spirituality in the Christian tradition, one must ponder their relationship to gender. This paper seeks to tie work done by Kathryn Reklis on the “Kinesthetic Imagination” and the theology of Jonathan Edwards to the recently discovered manuscripts of Sarah Pierpont Edwards’ mysticism, addressing the role of embodied theology in Christian history, the Christian wife, and revival bodies in Edwards’ New England. Additionally, this paper addresses the pervading false narratives of Sarah’s faith and by providing a new narrative grounded in archival research, this paper will be able to better illuminate Jonathan Edwards’ personal and professional relationships to the revivals. As faith seeks understanding, in the intimate role of husband and wife, the faith of Sarah Pierpont Edwards will help us come to greater knowledge of what Jonathan sought to understand contested by the Sarah that history sought to preserve.

Go back to schedule parallel session 3

Aza Goudriaan: Dutch Backgrounds of New England Covenant Theology? Charles Hodge on Marckius, De Moor, and Vitringa.

This short paper relates to Jonathan Edwards and his theological context in an indirect manner by studying the citations of early modern Dutch covenant views that Charles Hodge linked to New England covenant theology.

(a) In the third volume of his Systematic Theology (1872), Charles Hodge discussed the theory of a “twofold covenant; one external, the other internal; answering to the distinction between the Church visible and invisible” (3: 562). The theory was relevant for membership of the Church and for admission to the sacraments. According to Hodge, the theory influenced Jonathan Edwards’s grandfather, Solomon Stoddard, and subsequently Edwards himself. Hodge noted: “De Moor gives a long account of the controversy. Vitringa, it appears, strenuously opposed this theory of a twofold covenant in its application to the New Testament economy. Marck as strenously defended it” (3: 563).

(b) Next, Hodge described another theory that distinguished between Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, with Baptism having a lower threshold. Again, Hodge cited De Moor and Vitringa: “This is one of the views on this general subject referred to by Vitringa and De Moor in the works above mentioned” (3: 566). The theory, explained Hodge, was commonly known as defending a “Half-Way Covenant.”

In this paper we will study Hodge’s references and ask to what extent Johannes Marckius, Bernhardinus de Moor, and Campegius and Martinus Vitringa can help explain New England covenant theology.

Go back to schedule parallel session 3

Karsten Schmidtke: Jonathan Edwards: Rationality and Spirituality: His Understanding of Conviction of Sin.

The theological presuppositions of the spiritual term „conviction of sin“ found in Covenant Theology, Calvinism, Preparationism, preaching on law and gospel as well as Edwards´s rhetoric have been frequently researched. The Calvinism of Edwards was never questioned. Cherry (1966) and McClymond and McClymond (2012) kept on stressing his Covenant Theology and Miller (1943), Petitt (1966), Gerstner and Gerstner (1979) as well as Beeke and Smalley his puritan Preparationism (2013). Gerstner worked on his focus on law and gospel (1960; 1993,3) and White (1972) and Choinski (2016) on his rhetoric.

The philosophical presuppositions in regards to a more rational understanding of the term include his illumination theory, his theory on the senses and his theory on ideas. His illumination theory was first researched by Cherry (1966:27-33) and is currently being researched by McClymond & McDermott (2012:377-378) and Beeke and Smalley (2013:180-195). His theory on the senses and his theory on ideas have been discussed previously by Miller and later on by many researchers, currently by Danaher (2004:16-26,35-44,117-156,120-127), McClymond and McDermott (2012:102-107, 378-384) and (Crisp 2015:151-155).

The research today can be distinguished in two branches: The focus on the influence on Edwards by John Locke on the one hand and the focus on the influence by the puritans and other philosophers on the other (Walton 2002:7-29). The author of this paper agrees with the second branch of the research arguing, that Edwards´s understanding of an illumination theory, theory of the senses („sense of the heart“) and theory of ideas („a new simple idea“) is founded in the philosophical presupposions of the church fathers and the Puritans (McClymond & McDermott 2012:105,314,340,344,383-384). Nevertheless Edwards modified Locke´s philosophy (:26,163; Simonson 1974:25-26; Williams 1981:342; Vetö 2009:158).

Go back to schedule parallel session 3

Victor (Xinping) Zhu: ‘Seeking the Veiled God: Jonathan Edwards and Chinese Philosophical Classics’.

Eighteenth century Anglo-European cultures were significantly impacted by an influx of ideas from China. In particular, thinkers who identified with the Enlightenment employed Chinese thought as a typical sample in order to undermine fundamental Christian theological positions such as revelation and redemption, and thinkers who identified with the Puritan movement attempted to trace the subtleties of divine revelation in Chinese philosophical classics. However, little work has been done to examine this significant subject in detail.

In order to fill this gap, this paper will explore Chinese influences on both the Enlightenment thinkers and the Puritans through theological disagreement between Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) and the Deists such as Gottfried Leibniz, Matthew Tindal and Christian Wolff. The paper will engage the topic in three aspects. First, it will provide a brief historical overview of the popularity of Chinese philosophy in Europe and the English colonies as aroused by the Jesuits in the late seventeenth century. Then it will examine the favorable perspectives of China particularly among a group of radical Enlightenment thinkers, the Deists. This will lead to a discussion of Edwards’s response to the Deists’ attack on the essential doctrines of Christianity. Specifically, it will explore how Edwards refuted the Deists’ rejection of a revealed religion. The paper will conclude with an evaluation on Edwards’s cosmic vision of the millennial kingdom that includes China and other heathen nations in his time. This vision actually de-centralized his puritan divines’ over-inflated emphasis of time, space and people of the New England. By examining this theological divergence between Edwards and the Deists, this paper will shed new light on the neglected issue of the impact of Chinese philosophy and culture on Anglo-European theological battles in the eighteenth century. It will provide a corrective reading for the once-popular misinterpretation of Edwards’s America-centric millennialism as well. 

Go back to schedule parallel session 3