Jonathan Edwards by Simonetta Carr (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)
Simonetta Carr has once again outdone herself in this beautifully written book on Jonathan Edwards. Most children going through school get only a negative impression from Edwards as they barely get past his sermon entitled ‘Sermon in the Hands of an Angry God,’ yet there is so much more to his life than one sermon. Simonetta notes in the opening lines that “he lived in a time where people were questioning long-accepted ideas about the world, life, and God (5).” Yet, he continually spoke truth about God’s world and His world in a changing time.
Instead of placing Edwards on such a high pedestal as often he is by biographers, Simonetta lets us get a glimpse of his humanity, his emotional toils and also his radiant joys. She has this to say about young Jonathan, “He and his friends also built a shed by an isolated swamp where they could pray and read the Bible together. After a while, however, he found it difficult to keep with such great efforts. Feeling discouraged, he stopped trying for a while (8).” It is truly amazing that he built a shed at age nine to pray and read the Bible. Yet, his humanity shines forth here, for he went through a period of dryness, of being discouraged much as we all face in our spiritual lives. We get another glimpse of the emotional weight Jonathan felt as he was leaving his temporary pastorate in New York. Simonetta writes, “In April 1723, his temporary pastorate came to an end, and, with great sadness, Edwards had to say good-bye to his landlady and her family (19).” These glimpses into the interior of Edwards’ life reveal to his readers that he was not unlike many he preached to, although he sure did have a mighty intellect.
Another point that is worth mentioning is that Simonetta brings out Edwards position on the Lord’s Supper very clearly in the book. She evidences the fact that Solomon Stoddard furthered the tradition that allowed all who were baptized in the church to receive the Lord’s Supper, whether or not they had publicly professed their faith in Christ. Edwards thought this ran counter to the Bible, quoting 1 Cor. 11:27 for his support. He ‘finally decided he could not go back on his convictions,’ and eventually 230 out of 253 members voted to ouster Edwards (37-38). Firm convictions don’t always come with agreement among believers, but Edwards maintained his convictions even when it cost him livelihood.
The pictures in the book are marvelous, including the early paintings of Sarah and Jonathan. Simonetta has grasped the spirit of Edwards, his matchless intellect, gospel vision, and love for God’s creation in very accessible and beautiful manner.
Thanks to Reformation Heritage Books and Cross Focused Reviews for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.