UPDATE: 11/2/12: SEE…
John Gerstner’s Steps to Salvation: A Study in the Evangelistic Message of Jonathan Edwards (1960)
After an examination of the evidence I have found, which is not that much, there are soteriological works that were DEFINITELY heavy influences on Jonathan Edwards’ worldview. His favorite theological works were: Peter van Mastricht’s Theoretico-Practica Theologica (1687) and Francis Turretin’s Institutes of Elenctic Theology (1685). We know for sure that these books not only heavily influenced Edwards’ theology, but that he loved them above all theological works, because he says so in a letter to a friend named Joseph Bellamy (see John Smith’s A Jonathan Edwards Reader, pp. 304-305). By studying Mastricht and Turretin, we can trace who their influences were, and really get into Edwards’ views of the Gospel, and how they were so powerful in bringing about the Great Awakening of 1735 and on.
There is also evidence of other possible soteriological influences on Edwards; however, the evidence is not as clear as in the letter to Joseph Bellamy. By relying on scholarly secondary sources about Jonathan Edwards, and Puritan and Pietist theology, I have been able to recover evidence that is convincingly strong enough, to make the probable inference that Edwards read these books as well, and that they affected his soteriology. I will rank them by their probable importance to Edwards:
- Westminster Confession of Faith
- William Ames’ The Marrow of Theology
- Richard Baxter’s Practical Works
- Johann Wolleb’s Compendium of Christian Theology
- John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion
- August Francke’s Nicodemus
- Johann Arndt’s True Christianity
- William Perkins’ The Art of Prophesying
- John Milton’s Paradise Lost
- John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress
I am very convinced, that any Gospel preacher who feeds his mind, with works such as these, is on his way to starting a Great Awakening wherever he is!
UPDATE: Influences on Edwards’ theology of Hell (5/26/13).
1. Solomon Stoddard’s The Fear of Hell Restrains Men from Sin
2. Westminster Confession of Faith, chs. 32-33