It is a scene that I’ve seen replayed several times over. Someone comes across a few lines from the famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and they are mesmerized. They ask, “Who talks like this?” When they find out that it was Jonathan Edwards they begin researching and then read the rest of the sermon and begin other writings. Then, like a drill running low on battery, they lose steam. Edwards’ writing is something of a thick piece of wood. Some would even say he is a stud. Because his writing is so theologically dense he is tough to work through. People get discouraged and decide to stay away from the guy with the fantastic quotes and outstanding hair.
What they need is some help. They need Edwards’ writing to be a bit more accessible. John Piper has done this for an entire generation, not the least with God’s Passion for His Glory. But even this, for some, is tough sledding.
Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney have worked hard to serve the church by putting together an accessible introduction to the life and thought of Edwards. It is both theological and biographical. The authors compiled a series of 5 books entitled The Essential Edwards Collection: Jonathan Edwards Lover of God, Jonathan Edwards On Beauty, Jonathan Edwards On Heaven and Hell, Jonathan Edwards On the Good Life, and Jonathan Edwards on True Christianity.
The endorsements are helpful and spot-on:
“Why hasn’t this been done before? The Essential Edwards Collection is now essential reading for the serious-minded Christian. Doug Sweeney and Owen Strachan have written five excellent and accessible introductions to America’s towering theological genius – Jonathan Edwards. They combine serious scholarship with the ability to make Edwards and his theology come alive for a new generation. The Essential Edwards Collection is a great achievement and a tremendous resource. I can’t think of a better way to gain a foundational knowledge of Edwards and his lasting significance.” - R. Albert Mohler Jr., President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Everyone says Jonathan Edwards is important. Quite frankly, however, his writing style is pretty dense by contemporary standards, so few pastors and other Christian leaders have invested much time reading him. This new series tackles the problem. Here is the kernel of much of Edwards’s thought in eminently accessible form.” - D.A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
“In The Essential Edwards Collection, Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney point with knowledge and excitement to clear and searching sections that illuminate God’s truth and search our hearts. In this collection, Edwards is introduced to a new generation of readers. His concerns are made our concerns. This is a worthy effort and I pray that God will bless it.” - Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC.
The books are the small paperbacks weighing in at about 150 pages. They are written with plenty of section headers, application questions, and historical details. Anyone wanting to get to know Edwards in a non-intimidating way should pick these up. You can get the entire set or buy them individually. My guess is that once you read through some of these you’ll be inclined to pick up more of Edwards’ own writings. And, you’ll have the steam to get through it!