Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) offers here his most detailed description of the signs of revival and takes a look at the evidence of true conversion.
The author’s object in this book is to distinguish between true and false religion by showing the marks of a saving work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In his Preface, Edwards stresses the importance of using “our utmost endeavors clearly to discern … wherein true religion does consist.” For “till this be done, it may be expected that great revivings of religion will be but of short continuance.”
Jonathan Edwards penned “Religious Affections” in a day much like our own. Battle lines were drawn over religion of the heart and religion of the head. Edwards, the consummate scholar, but his biblical mind and spiritual heart fully into the task of explaining the scriptural, theological, and practical truth of the nature of spiritual conversion and spiritual growth.
Unlike many Christian scholars today, Edwards recognized the age-old (Old Testament, New Testament, and Church History) truth/tradition of the affections. He saw them as the relational motivation that impelled the soul. Further, he saw the affections, or our longings, desires, and thirsts, as God-created/designed core components of the healthy human personality.
He then traced the relationship between the affections, our cognitions, our volition, and our emotions. Brilliantly he demonstrated that we pursue (volition) what we perceive (cognition) to be pleasant (affections) and pleasing (emotions). In other words, the “action” is in the affections. Capture the affections through the imagination (the deepest aspects of our cognitive capacity) and you capture the soul.
To understand the biblical psychology of the soul, other than the Bible itself, this is THE book to devour.
Reviewer: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D.