Paul's Passing Thoughts

Susan Dohse: Jonathan Edwards, Strange But True – 2015 TANC Conference: Session 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 30, 2016

The following is an excerpt of the transcript from Susan Dohse’s 2nd session at the 2015 TANC Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny.


I may be showing my age by asking this: who remembers Ripley’s Believe It or Not television show? It aired in 1985 and Jack Palance was its narrator. How about the museum at Niagra Falls? How about some of these believe it or not ideas Jonathan Edwards wrote about and believed?

Frank Viola’s blog helped me condense some of Jonathan Edward’s beliefs and kept me from jumping from one book or article to another collecting my specific thoughts. With his help, how about these shocking beliefs of Jonathan Edwards:

1) He was a strong advocate for Indian rights during his day. He was bitterly critical when New Englanders stole land from Native Americans, commanding them to pay for the land they took. The logical Reformed personality was a “social activist”? Peculiar isn’t it, since many contemporary Edwards followers turn their noses up at anything to do with social activism or social justice today.

2) “Edwards owned slaves and believed that being a slave-owner was NOT incompatible with being a follower of Jesus. While Edwards was an advocate of Indian rights and denounced the transatlantic slave trade, he himself was a slave owner.”

So, for “America’s greatest theologian” to own slaves and think it okay, is well, shocking, don’t you think?

3) Knowing how Calvinists hated Arminians and Arminians were mutual in their love for Calvinists, “Edwards did not believe that Arminians were disqualified from ministry or the Kingdom of God. He defended a pastor who had anti-Calvinistic views. The pastor (Benjamin Doolittle) was being denounced by his own church for owning a slave”. To defend an Arminian minister is “shocking to some hard-core Calvinists who believe that ‘unless you receive John Calvin into your heart, you cannot be saved’, or at least…”you are a heretic.”

4) “Edwards believed the Pope was the Antichrist; apologies to our Catholic friends.
This fact sobers popular notions that Edwards always interpreted Scripture correctly.

5) “Edwards believed that God hates sinners worse than you hate poison. Just read his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”

6) “Edwards believed that the revival that was happening in 1740 was the prelude of the consummation of the ages where ‘the world would be renewed’ and that God’s great and last work on the earth began in America.

7) “Edwards believed that emotional outbursts that included bodily manifestations were normal during a revival…He explained that this was a human response in some people to the power of the Spirit.

8) “Edwards believed that mystical experiences were part of the Christian experience.” (Mystical meaning “…an experience that’s spiritual that goes beyond the faculties of the frontal lobe.”) “On one occasion, a vision caused him to weep aloud for almost an hour. He points out that he had experiences like this numerous times: ‘I have many times had a sense of the glory of the third person in the Trinity, in his office of Sanctifier, in his holy operation, communicating divine light and life to the soul.’”

Have you ever met a Calvinist who described a personal spiritual experience like this? Maybe, if you know a Charismatic Calvinist.

9) Edwards believed that God’s sovereignty requires that He create the entire universe out of nothing at every moment. (Frank Viola, “Shocking Beliefs of Jonathan Edwards”, November, 2014)


Watch all of Susan’s 2nd session below.

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