Michael McClymond on Jonathan Edwards
Date: July 16th, 2012
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Jonathan Edwards is often considered one of the greatest theologians in US history. Prof. Michael McClymond – professor of theological studies at St. Louis University – reviews the fascinating life and times of Rev. Edwards. But first, Michael explains how he himself moved from earning a degree in chemistry at Northwestern University to becoming a scholar of 18th century religious thought. His answer not only gives insight into his interesting career path, but also sheds light on Jonathan Edwards who was also interested in both the natural and supernatural worlds. Prof. McClymond then corrects Tony’s (rather redneck) pronunciation of “contemplative” and explains how this factors into Edwards’ life and general temperament. After this, we move back to the beginning of Jonathan Edwards’ life and talk about his upbringing, early education at Yale, and his conversion experience that set him down the path of preaching. Our conversation then follows various periods and turning points in Edwards’ life and how his theological thinking changed or evolved throughout each period. We start with his stint at the Northampton Church where his famous grandfather, Solomon Stoddard, preached. The role of religious revivals — both how Edwards inspired one and how he thought about its progression — factors importantly in this era. Not only was Edwards encouraged by how faith can motivate people to change their lives, but he was also profoundly affected by how quickly such movements can dissipate. Michael then guides us through the “ethical-rogorist,” “ecclesial-sacramental” and “Calvinistic-controversial” turns in Rev. Edwards’ life, devoting attention to how such a renown preacher and thinker was exiled from his ministry after 23 years. This exile then issues in yet another important phase for Edwards, the “cultural-historical” turn wherein his contact with Native Americans prompts his interest in non-Christian religious traditions. Our podcast ends with the death of Edwards shortly after accepting the presidency of Princeton (or The College of New Jersey as it was called then). Prof. McClymond then reflects on the historical importance of Edwards and how he is being rediscovered today as we gain access to his voluminous private writings that remained out of public sight during his life. Recorded: July 10, 2012.
Prof. Michael McClymond’s biography at St. Louis University.
The Theology of Jonathan Edwards, by Michael J. McClymond and Gerald R. McDermott.
Encounters with God: An Approach to the Theology of Jonathan Edwards, by Michael J. McClymond.
Embodying the Spirit: New Perspectives on North American Revivalism, by Michael J. McClymond.
Encyclopedia of Religious Revivals in America, edited by Michael J. MyClymond.
Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth, by Michael J. McClymond.
Institute for World Christianity.
Thomas Kidd on the Great Awakening.
Mark David Hall on Religion & the Founding Fathers.
John Fea on Religion & the American Founding.
Mark David Hall on Roger Sherman, Puritan Patriot.
Should Christians Have Fought in the US War of Independence?
Douglass Baker on Dominionism, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry.
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