Edwards on the Christian Life

Book Review: Here's a book you should read... no excuses.

Huw Williams | 18:38, Wednesday 15 July 2015 | Turin, Italy

"Alive to the Beauty of God" - By Dane C. Ortlund (Crossway)

Edwards on the Christian Life - Alive to the Beauty of GodIf you’re like me, you read the final sentence of book review first to see whether the review (let alone the book) is worth your precious time. After all, who cares why a book one wasn’t planning to read in the first place, isn’t all that good? So let’s get straight to the point, read this book. If you only read one book this year, read this book. If you have a pile of books already waiting to be read and you think you don’t want to add to it, put them all in the shed and read this book. And just in case you haven’t understood me properly, I think you should read this book.

But why on earth would I read a book on an eighteenth century preacher and theologian?” you might ask. Three reasons spring to mind.

Firstly, you may never have read any Jonathan Edwards, apart from the hundreds of quotations from his works which appear in so many more modern Christian writing and preaching. And there’s your answer – Edwards’ influence on Christian thought over the last 250 years or so is huge, and the many people who still read his sermons and other works know what a rich legacy he left behind in his writing for future generations of Christians. Edwards continues to make a huge impact and have a significant influence on contemporary evangelical leaders from John Piper to Tim Keller. But it’s true that if you haven’t jumped in to the Edwards pool yet, a little introduction and orientation to his life and theology will certainly be very helpful, and that is exactly what Dane Ortlund gives in this book. He is clearly a person who knows Edwards’ work extremely well and proves to be a helpful and humble commentator and guide.

Secondly, you may be like me, and have read one or two of Edwards’ books, but still find it difficult to know where to go next, or how what you have read fits into his wider theology. Again, this is the strength of Ortlund’s book. His style is self-effacing and attractive and rarely draws attention to his own considerable knowledge, but where clarification or comment is needed, it is invariably helpful.

Thirdly, perhaps you are already something of an Edwards connoisseur. I should imagine that even then, this book will prove very valuable, since Ortlund appears to have both a firm grasp on the entire surviving work of Edwards, as well as the gift of being able to distil and explain with clarity and brevity what the major themes of this marvelous theologian’s work are.

This really is a tremendous book. It is thoroughly researched but never dry and academic. It is thoughtful and delightfully devotional, easy to read and highly inspiring.

Read. This. Book.

And if you’ve just started reading this review here, you’d better go to the top.

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