Thursday, September 6, 2012

Book Review: A History of the Work of Redemption

Title:  A History of the Work of Redemption

Author:  Jonathan Edwards

Publisher:  The Banner of Truth Trust

First Copyright:  1774
First Banner of Truth Trust Copyright:  2003

Type of Book:  Hardback

General Subject Matter:  Redemptive work of God in history

Price:  $29.00

ISBN:  0-85151-844-3

The purpose of this book comes from rational deduction. Although the body of work is attributed to Jonathan Edwards, and the chapters are actually sermons preached by Jonathan Edwards, he did not write this “book.” This “book” is a composition of thirty (30) sermons preached by Edwards to his Northampton congregation in 1739. Edwards desired to write a book on the redemptive work of God in history from the fall of man to the consummation of all things by God. Unfortunately Edwards died before he could achieve his goal.  Jonathan Edwards, Jr. in 1773 helped see these sermons brought together in a single publication.
Edward’s original purpose, deduced from the sermons which serve as an outline for the book he did not write was to give a clear and concise working of God through this atoning work. Edwards purposed to give a clear rendition of God’s work from the fall of man until the beginning of eternity and beyond.

It was Edward’s contention that everything that every transpired in human history was totally subservient to God’s work of redemption. He also contended that nothing could ever thwart that work of God and regardless of any instance referenced actually furthered the work of God.

The theme of this book is the redemptive work of God in this world throughout history.

The thesis of this book is that the righteousness of God is tied to his faithfulness in fulfilling his covenantal promises to his church and his faithfulness towards his church in bestowing the covenants of grace upon his people.

Edwards develops his thesis by the way of exposition. He supplies analysis of both the topic and the scripture to support  his topic and uses explanation to clarify his ideas. Edwards explains scripture in an effort to support his thesis.

This is the hardest review this reviewer has ever written. I love Jonathan Edwards and I have learned much from him. However, I have always been able to separate his error of being a covenant theologian from his exegesis on subjects other than those which are related to covenant theology. This time I cannot. He addresses his topic “straight on” with his theology.

The next step in a book review is to evaluate the book on interest, accuracy, objectivity, importance, thoroughness and usefulness to its intended audience. At this point the review responds to the author’s opinions.

As much as I am whole-heartedly committed to the doctrines of grace I do not and cannot equate covenant theology with biblical doctrines. I found myself unable to enjoy this book and forced myself to read it in order to satisfy the agreement that I have with Banner of Truth Trust to read and review books that they provide me free of charge.

I found this book uninteresting. More importantly I cannot suggest that Edwards was accurate and objective in his exposition. Edwards intended to present in this sermon series and his future book the history of God’s redemption throughout history beginning with the fall of man. Had he stuck to that as his thesis and dealt with it objectively and accurately he might have written something that would be useful to his readers.

Edwards did not do that. In accordance with his commitment to “covenant theology” he ascribed the history of salvation or redemption as the history of the church. Edwards, as most covenant theologians confused God’s remnant of Israel with the church. He “read” the church into place and role of God’s chosen people and the Jewish nation.

Fortunately Edwards has written on a vast myriad of subjects. He has written accurately of the glorious nature of our majestic God for example. Edwards has much to offer both the church and individual believers. Unfortunately this book has nothing to offer the church or the people of God.

I received this book free with no other consideration for this review. The opinions in this review are mine and I was not required to give a positive or negative.

Happy 38th Birthday to my oldest daughter, Shannon A. Metcalf of Vancouver, WA!

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