Was Jonathan Edwards the stalwart and unquestioning Reformed theologian that he is often portrayed as being? In what ways did his own conversion fail to meet the standards of his Puritan ancestors? And how did this affect his understanding of the Divine Being and of the nature of justification? Becoming Divine investigates the early theological career of Edwards, finding him deep in a crisis of faith that drove him into an obsessive lifelong search for answers.
Instead of a fear of God, which he had been taught to understand as proof of his conversion, he experienced a ‘surprising, amazing joy’. Suddenly he saw the Divine Being in everything and felt himself transported into a heavenly world, becoming one with the Divine family. What he developed, as he sought to make sense of this unexpected joy, is a theology that is both ancient and early modern: a theology of divine participation rooted in the incarnation of Christ.
Part One: The Judeo-Christian Tradition of Jonathan Edwards
1. The Illuminating Word and Spirituality from Antiquity to the Early Reformation
2. Scripture and Spirituality in Early-Modern Biblical Interpretation
Part Two: Jonathan Edwards’s Spirituality in His New England World
3. The Seeds of Spirituality in the Young Edwards, 1703-1723
4. The Pursuit of Divine Excellencies, 1723-1730
5. The Incarnational Spirituality of the Mature Edwards
Part Three: Jonathan Edwards’s Spiritual Reading of the Sacred Text
6. Unlocking the Divine Treasure Chest
7. The Lasting Voice of Edwards
Endorsements and Reviews
Withrow’s fascinating look at Edwards’s incarnationalism is must reading for Edwards scholars. By tying Edwards’s Spirit-Christology to his doctrine of the Spirit’s role in binding believers to Christ, helping them understand the Scriptures, and thereby helping them participate in the very life of God, he has developed a reading of Edwards that will generate fresh thinking about this quasi-mystical sage and his variations on such crucial theological themes for years to come.
Douglas A. Sweeney, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
In Becoming Divine, Withrow has provided a masterful explication of Edwards’s understanding of the intricate relationship between what the Bible is and what conversion does, between ‘Biblicism’ and ‘union with Christ’. He places Edwards’s work accurately within the broader historical and theological tradition of hermeneutics and spirituality and shows how Edwards’s theology is ‘a Protestant candidate for continuing interests in ecumenical dialogue between Western and Eastern Christians’. I enthusiastically recommend this book.
Samuel T. Logan Jr, The World Reformed Fellowship