Thursday, July 2, 2009

Douglas Sweeney's Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word

I am making good headway on my summer reading, but the pile keeps getting larger anyway. No complaints here!!! A new title I've added to my must read pile is Douglas Sweeney's Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word. This volume is courtesy of IVP Academic. Jonathan Edwards continues to be an inspiration to pastors and ministerial students to this day. I am convinced that it is a direct result of God's sovereign hand upon his life and his humble submission to Christ and the Scriptures.

Douglas Sweeney is worth listening to especially when it comes to Jonathan Edwards. He teaches Church History at TEDS and has written extensively on New England Theology and Jonathan Edwards. Read his faculty bio posted on the TEDS website:
Douglas A. Sweeney is Professor of Church History and the History of Christian Thought and Director of the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Dr. Sweeney came to Trinity in 1997 from Yale University, where he edited The Works of Jonathan Edwards and served as a lecturer in church history and historical theology. Sweeney has also served as an adjunct professor at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee, and a visiting professor for Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. Sweeney received the Doctor of Philosophy and the Master of Arts in Religion from Vanderbilt University, the Master of Arts in the History of Christian Thought from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and the Bachelor of Arts in History from Wheaton College. His areas of expertise include the history of theology, history of Christianity, and American church history. He belongs to numerous professional organizations, including the American Society of Church History, which he serves as a member of the Committee on Research. He is currently President of the Conference on Faith and History. He is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the Jonathan Edwards Research Fellowship, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Dr. Sweeney has written numerous books and articles about religious history and the American theologian, Jonathan Edwards. He is the coeditor of The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader (Yale University Press); the author of Nathaniel Taylor, New Haven Theology, and the Legacy of Jonathan Edwards (Oxford University Press); the editor of Jonathan Edwards's "Miscellanies" Nos. 1153-1360, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 23 (Yale University Press); the co-editor of Jonathan Edwards at Home and Abroad: Historical Memories, Cultural Movements, Global Horizons (University of South Carolina Press); the author of The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movement (Baker Academic); the co-editor of The New England Theology: From Jonathan Edwards to Edwards Amasa Park (Baker Academic); and the author of Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word (InterVarsity Press, [2009]).

The endorsements listed for this volume are numerous and compelling. Read for yourself:
"Doug Sweeney has written a fine introduction to Jonathan Edwards' life and theology. Accessible and accurate, this introduction is a good place to start in trying to understand Edwards as a man, a Christian, a theologian and a pastor."

Mark Dever, senior pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.

"I love this book! Doug Sweeney not only demonstrates the central role of Scripture in the theology and pastoral ministry of Jonathan Edwards but also provides us with a vibrant portrayal of his life and the many brilliant insights that have rightly contributed to his global reputation. Combining clarity and ease of style with a remarkable breadth of research, Sweeney has given us a treatment of Edwards that may well prove to be the standard against which all future contributions are judged. I highly recommend it!"

Sam Storms, Ph.D., senior pastor, Bridgeway Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

"Doug Sweeney gives us a nourishing and tasty introduction to the real Edwards, and focuses in this brief but substantial volume on Edwards' ministry of the Word. He provides a fascinating entrance to the life and career of Edwards, and then zeroes in on Edwards' multifaceted understanding of Scripture. Sweeney gives us enough detail to stimulate new insights into Edwards, "Scripture and its Author. But his writing is not so technical that the general reader would not be abundantly rewarded by perusing this slim but informative and illuminating volume."

Gerald McDermott, professor of religion, Roanoke College, Salem, Virginia

"Douglas Sweeney has written an admirable 'Jonathan Edwards for Christians.' It is at once authoritative and addressed to the practical concerns of evangelicals in the pews."

"With the exception of George Marsden and Kenneth Minkema, it is hard to find someone more knowledgeable about Jonathan Edwards than Douglas Sweeney. In focusing his book on Edwards as minister, Sweeney offers academic and clerical readers a treasure trove of insight and elegant prose. If not Luther's Ninety-Five Theses, the inclusion of seven 'theses' for discussion at the end is a stroke of genius and will certainly enhance the reading experience for church groups of all levels. For anyone interested in getting to know America's greatest theologian in greater detail, this masterful analysis is must-reading."

Harry S. Stout, Jonathan Edwards Professor of American Religious History, Yale University

"A lively, intimate portrait of a man many have found distant and intimidating. Douglas Sweeney reveals Jonathan Edwards to be the flesh-and-blood Christian we should have suspected he was, in a way that neither patronizes nor idealizes him. As importantly, we have here for the first time an account of Edwards' life that rightly places the Bible at the center of his intellectual and pastoral genius."

Robert E. Brown, assistant professor, Department of Philosophy and Religion, James Madison University, and author of Jonathan Edwards and the Bible

"Strangely, it has taken nearly three centuries for us to realize the obvious: that Jonathan Edwards had a lifelong love affair with the Bible. Doug Sweeney has been at the forefront of elucidating Edwards the exegete and the biblical foundations of his theology. In this new work, Sweeney shows the vital, reflective and informed connections between Edwards' Biblicism and his calling as a 'faithful minister of the Word.' Even more, Sweeney points out the extent to which Edwards' more formal theological formulations arose directly out of his local pastoral experience. This study will be a blessing to pastors, preachers and spiritual leaders, who can learn from Edwards' faith, thought and experience."

Dr. Kenneth P. Minkema, executive director, Jonathan Edwards Center, and adjunct assistant professor of American religious history, Yale University

About the Book (from IVP)

Jonathan Edwards has been recognized as the most influential evangelical theologian of all time. Before his death at the age of fifty-four, he had sparked a new movement of Reformed evangelicals who played a major role in fueling the rise of modern missions, preaching revivals far and wide, and wielding the cutting edge of American theology. He has never gone out of print, and Christians today continue to flock to seminars and conferences on him.

In this biography of the great preacher and teacher, historian Douglas Sweeney locates for us the core and key to Edwards' enduring impact. Sweeney finds that Edwards' profound and meticulous study of the Bible securely anchored his powerful preaching, his lively theological passions and his discerning pastoral work. Beyond introducing you to Edwards' life and times, this book will provide you with a model of Christian faith, thought and ministry.

Book Excerpts

Introduction: The Word in Edwards' World