Edwardsean Theology

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EDWARDSEAN THEOLOGY is the designation applied to the variety of Calvinism enunciated by the eighteenth-century New England theologian Jonathan Edwards. This system rested upon Edwards's vision of the absolute glory of God and humanity's complete dependence upon the deity. Edwards held that God acted for reasons of his own glory and that his complete sovereignty best served that glory. True virtue consisted of an assent to the beauty and excellence of this arrangement. In his work Freedom of the Will (1754) Edwards further proposed that humans depended entirely upon God to achieve true virtue. People were free only to follow those volitions that God predetermined for the purposes of his own glory.

Often remembered for his fiery denunciations of sinners, Edwards displayed a remarkable ability to blend the metaphysics of the Enlightenment with his vision of God's absolute glory. Although Edwards's preaching constituted an important component of the Great Awakening of the late 1730s and early 1740s, he should not be considered the sole spokesperson for the Awakening. Following his death Edwards's theology was perpetuated by theologians such as Samuel Hopkins, who tried to preserve his metaphysics but who lacked the visionary quality of his work.


Edwards, Jonathan. Representative Selections. Edited by Clarence H. Faust and Thomas H. Johnson. New York: Hill and Wang, 1962.

Hatch, Nathan O., and Harry S. Stout, eds. Jonathan Edwards and the American Experience. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Holbrook, Clyde A. The Ethics of Jonathan Edwards: Morality and Aesthetics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1973.

Miller, Perry. Jonathan Edwards. New York: W. Sloan Associates, 1949.

Leo P.Hirrel

See alsoCalvinism ; Great Awakening .