Interpreting the harmony of reality : Jonathan Edwards’ theology of revelation.
Schweitzer, William M.
This thesis is believed to be the first full-scale study of Jonathan Edwards’ theology of revelation. The interrelated questions addressed in this work are ‘what was Edwards’ understanding of divine revelation,’ and ‘how did this understanding function in his larger theological project?’ The first question is answered by showing how Edwards’ theology of revelation flowed from a doctrine of the Trinity that featured the divine attribute of communicativeness, and from a doctrine of creation that theorised God created in order to communicate himself to intelligent beings noetically, affectionally and beatifically. Edwards’ theology of revelation was thus distinctively tri-dimensional in that Trinitarian communication contained noetic, affectional and beatific elements. This revelation encompassed the media of Scripture, nature and redemptive history, and Edwards’ understandings of each of these three media are explored in depth. The concept of harmony is shown to be key to Edwards’ use of all of these media. Edwards’ radical opposition to Deistic thinking, in which the media of revelation are alleged to be discordant, grounds the discussion in its eighteenth century context. The second of the questions posed above is answered by presenting a theory explaining Edwards’ great project as the pursuit of one objective: to interpret all reality as the harmonious self-revelation of the Triune God, so that human beings might better fulfil their purpose to apprehend and re-emanate this revelation. We believe that this is a plausible and useful way to understand Edwards’ entire corpus.