Becoming Divine: Jonathan Edwards’s Incarnational Spirituality within the Christian Tradition
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“The Savior’s Transfiguration,” ca. early 15th century. Attributed to Theophanes the Greek.
About This Book
Was Jonathan Edwards always—or ever—the stalwart and unquestioning Reformed theologian that he is often portrayed as being? In what ways did his own conversion fail to meet the standards of his Puritan ancestors? And how did this affect his understanding of the divine being and of the nature of justification? Becoming Divine investigates the early theological career of Edwards, finding him deep in a crisis of faith that drove him into an obsessive lifelong search for answers. Instead of a fear of God—which he had been taught to understand as proof of his conversion—he experienced a “surprising, amazing joy.” Suddenly he saw the divine being in everything and felt himself transported into a heavenly world, becoming one with the divine family. What he developed, as he sought to make sense of this unexpected joy, is a theology that is both ancient and early modern—a theology of divine participation rooted in the incarnation of Christ.
“Withrow’s fascinating look at Edwards’s incarnationalism is must reading for Edwards scholars. By tying Edwards’s Spirit-Christology to his doctrine of the Spirit’s role in binding believers to Christ, helping them understand the Scriptures, and thereby helping them participate in the very life of God, he has developed a reading of Edwards that will generate fresh thinking about this quasi-mystical sage and his variations on such crucial theological themes for years to come.”
~ Douglas A. Sweeney, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
“In Becoming Divine, Brandon Withrow has provided a masterful explication of Edwards’s understanding of the intricate relationship between what the Bible is and what conversion does, between ‘Biblicism’ and ‘union with Christ.’ Withrow places Edwards’s work carefully and accurately within the broader historical/theological tradition of hermeneutics and spirituality and shows how Edwards’s theology is ‘a Protestant candidate for continuing interests in ecumenical dialogue between Western and Eastern Christians.’ For all of these reasons, I enthusiastically recommend this book.”
~ Samuel T. Logan, Jr., The World Reformed Fellowship
“Beneath these pages is a truckload of careful spadework which informs Withrow’s thoughtful analysis of many of the literary influences on Jonathan Edwards’s ‘spiritual reading’ of Scripture. One result is a better understanding of Edwards’s view of the sublime doctrine historically termed ‘deification’…Readers will find much in Withrow’s knowledge of the life, times, and thought of Edwards to enlarge their own understanding of the same.”
~ Don Whitney, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary