If he hadn't died from a tainted smallpox vaccination in 1758, Jonathan Edwards would be celebrating his 306th birthday today–Monday, October 5. When Edwards died, at the relatively young age of 55, he was one of the best known pastor-theologians in the English speaking world. Interestingly enough, the Calvinist pastor is making quite a comeback. There's been lots of talk on Out of Ur recently about the so-called New Reformed movement—folks that are proud to call Edwards "homeboy."
But would Edwards be proud to claim the New Reformed movement? Well, I just couldn't pass up the chance to ask him. Using skills learned on my many travels and my finely tuned interviewing skills, I sat down with Brother Edwards to ask him how well he thinks the new Calvinists are representing the old time religion.
Url: So, I've read "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." You're pretty intense.
Let me guess: high school English class.
Yep. Some of the New Reformed folks seem to like that hellfire and brimstone stuff. Did they learn that from you?
They might have. I preached my fair share of those sermons. But back then, you had to. Everybody was religious—it was against the law to skip church. So my greatest challenge as a pastor was combating spiritual apathy. I did everything I could to make sure people took their spiritual lives seriously, because it was really easy for them to take God for granted.
Do you think that sort of preaching is still effective today?
I suppose it can be, though I wouldn't say it's the only way to preach. Really, it depends on the audience. If you're preaching to religious people, you have to rattle their cages. But near the end of my career, I ministered to Native Americans. I took a different approach when I preached ...