Jonathan Edwards’s Judeo-centric and cosmic vision of the Millennial Kingdom
The present study addresses the less-well-known subject of Jonathan Edwards’s millennialism from his redemptive-historical vision. By situating him in the Reformation and post-Reformation contexts, taking into considerations of his interaction with the intellectual challenges posed by some of the Enlightenment thinkers, this study attempts to provide a more nuanced and extensive investigation of Edwards’s anticipation of the millennium. To put them in a nutshell, as a typical example of a dramatic paradigm shift in millennialism for the period between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, what Edwards expected was neither a political nor America-centric utopia as some scholars presented. Conversely, his vision of the millennium is a Christ-reigning, Judeo-centric and cosmic kingdom arriving on earth in distant future. As indispensable parts of Edwards’s theological system, the less-known facts of the Christological, Judeo-centric and cosmic nature of Edwards’s millennialism in Edwardsean scholarship highlight the greatness of God’s divine sovereignty, the magnificence of His glory as well as the capaciousness of His kingdom. This millennial vision departed significantly from the Reformed tradition in certain ways. In particular, while some of his Protestant predecessors and Puritan contemporaries tended to centralize, or even sacralize their present time and nations, Edwards decentralized England and New England in terms of time, space and people. This study sheds new light on a number of neglected and controversial issues. Firstly, this research provides a fresh and extensive review of Edwards’s millennial theology and provides another outlook on Edwards’s continuity in and departures from his Reformed tradition. Secondly, this study explores Edwards’s Christocentric conviction as well as his artful communication of this conviction in his millennialism. This offers a groundbreaking perspective to the correlation between Edwards’s Christology and his eschatology. Thirdly, the presentation of the Judeo-centric and cosmic nature offers an innovative interpretive key to his millennialism and provides a background to current debates on Israel and end times. Finally, this study ventures into two less well-known subjects: Israel and China in Edwards’s millennialism vision. Particularly, it provides new insights into his conviction of Israel’s restoration on the Promised Land and his eschatological hope for China and the heathen world.