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Edwards on the Will: A Century of American Theological Debate [Hardcover]

By Allen C. Guelzo (Author)
Our Price $ 44.20  
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Item Number 100029  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   364
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.98" Width: 6.3" Height: 1.34"
Weight:   1.81 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Apr 30, 1989
Publisher   Wesleyan
ISBN  0819551937  
EAN  9780819551931  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Jonathan Edwards towered over his contemporaries-a man over six feet tall and a figure of theological stature-but the reasons for his power have been a matter of dispute. Edwards on the Will offers a persuasive explanation. In 1753, after seven years of personal trials, which included dismissal from his Northampton church, Edwards submitted a treatise, Freedom of the Will, to Boston publishers. Its impact on Puritan society was profound. He had refused to be trapped either by a new Arminian scheme that seemed to make God impotent or by a Hobbesian natural determinism that made morality an illusion. He both reasserted the primacy of God's will and sought to reconcile freedom with necessity. In the process he shifted the focus from the community of duty to the freedom of the individual. Edwards died of smallpox in 1758 soon after becoming president of Princeton; as one obituary said, he was "a most rational . . . and exemplary Christian." Thereafter, for a century or more, all discussion of free will and on the church as an enclave of the pure in an impure society had to begin with Edwards. His disciples, the "New Divinity" men-principally Samuel Hopkins of Great Barrington and Joseph Bellamy of Bethlehem, Connecticut-set out to defend his thought. Ezra Stiles, president of Yale, tried to keep his influence off the Yale Corporation, but Edwards's ideas spread beyond New Haven and sparked the religious revivals of the next decades. In the end, old Calvinism returned to Yale in the form of Nathaniel William Taylor, the Boston Unitarians captures Harvard, and Edwards's troublesome ghost was laid to rest. The debate on human freedom versus necessity continued, but theologians no longer controlled it. In Edwards on the Will, Guelzo presents with clarity and force the story of these fascinating maneuverings for the soul of New England and of the emerging nation. "Allen Guelzo writes with grace, charm, and even wit about a weighty subject that others have found forbidding. His scholarship is broad and his expositions lucid."-Daniel Walker Howe, University of California at Los Angeles "Edwards on the Will is an important contribution to the study of Jonathan Edwards's thought. Where earlier scholars have been largely preoccupied with Edwards's 'modernity' or with measuring the social effect of Edwards in the context of the American Revolution, Allen Guelzo demonstrates his intellectual 'legacy' not only to the generation of the Revolution but also beyond. This work will stand as the definitive treatment of the legacy of Edwards's classic treatise on Freedom of the Will."-Harry Stout, Yale University "This book elevates the study of eighteenth-century New England theology to a new level of sophistication and insight. With a precise, fresh, and lively literary style, Guelzo makes old controversies come alive for a twentieth-century reader. This is intellectual history at its best-learned, animated, and compelling. It is one of the finest studies of theology in America ever written."-E. Brooks Holifield, Emory University "By tracing the development of one central point of Edwards's doctrine, Guelzo allows us to see the unfolding of the entire history of the Edwardsean school, and, by implication, of American theology, in the period between 1750-1830. This book is a major work of scholarship-thorough, enlightening, intellectually uncompromising."-Philip F. Gura, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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More About Allen C. Guelzo

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College. He is the author of "Lincoln s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America" and "Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, " both winners of the Lincoln Prize. Guelzo s essays, reviews, and articles have appeared in publications ranging from T"he" "American Historical Review" and "The Wilson Quarterly" to newspapers such as "The" "Philadelphia Inquirer" and "The Wall Street Journal.""

Allen C. Guelzo has an academic affiliation as follows - Gettysburg College.

Allen C. Guelzo has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Jules Archer History for Young Readers
  2. Library of Religious Biography
  3. Nathan I. Huggins Lectures
  4. Penguin Civic Classics
  5. Simon & Schuster Lincoln Library
  6. Very Short Introductions
  7. Vintage Civil War Library

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
very educational and well written book  Apr 27, 2003
I was first drawn to read this book after reading a review that Guelzo wrote about R.C. Sproul's book "Willing to Believe" in the publication "Christianity Today." I was impressed at Guelzo's command of the doctrine of free will and his criticisms of Sproul's book so I decided to see if Guelzo had himself written any books. I came across this book and decided to buy it.

Having finished it, I can say that this book is a fantastic book for anyone who would like to learn more about the history of religious thought in America. I believe, though I'm not certain, that this book is an adaptation of the Guelzo's PhD thesis. It certainly has a very scholarly feel, and is very well referenced. However, unlike some PhD theses adaptations, I found "Edwards on the Will" to be an engrossing read.

The book first lays out what Edwards taught, mostly drawing on the famous book "Freedom of the Will." Guelzo does a great job articulating the religious questions of the 1700s, particularly relating to the philosophers Hobbes and Locke. This is critical because "Freedom of the Will" was Edwards' response to the religious and philosophic challenges of his day.

I appreciated how clearly Guelzo shows that Edwards actually modified Calvinism in his defense against Hobbes. Too many people today seem to parrot that Edwards was a five-point Calvinist without really understanding the significance of what Edwards did. Edwards taught a difference between moral and natural ability -- this discrimination sparked a tremendous following as well as counter-reaction (cf James Dana). Edwards' followers, like Bellamy and Hopkins, carried some of Edwards ideas to their logical endpoints, including perfectionism, moral government views of atonement, and ecclesiastical separation, much to the chagrin of Old School Calvinism. In the book you will also learn about Nathaniel William Taylor, and his reformulation of Calvinism to respond to the Edwards' New Divinity. Both Edwards and Taylor contributed to the theology of later revivalists like Charles Finney, as Guelzo also nicely demonstrates.

In general, I would say that my understanding of American religious history is significantly greater after reading this book.

If you are a person who has thought a great deal about free will, you will really enjoy this book. If you haven't, this book probably is not for you. But today there seems to be a great deal of interest in free will yet there are a lot of books out there written by people who just don't know what they are talking about. Guelzo, on the other hand, clearly knows his subject very well. Honestly, with its scholarly integration of history and theology, I think I'd have to say that this book is the best religious history book that I've ever read.


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