Another book I’m tackling in 2012 is The Theology of Jonathan Edwards. So far, and not surprisingly, I’ve really been drawn into this one. Right off the bat, authors Michael McClymond and Gerald McDermott offer 5 recurring themes in Edwards’ theology. They use the metaphor of attending a symphony and how different hearers hear different musical themes emphasized depending on their location in the auditorium.
Edwards theology then could be organized into five symphonic themes (corresponding to an orchestra’s violins, other strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion):
Trinitarian communication (violins)
God’s self-communication or overflow transpired from all eternity among the three persons of the Trinity, and then occurred once again in the creation of the world (p. 5)
Creaturely participation (other strings)
God communicates, and the creature participates (p. 5)
Necessitarian dispositionalism (brass)
The essence of all being – even that of God – consisted in disposition or habit. Disposition is not a quality possessed by a thing, but is the essence of a thing (p. 5)
Theocentric voluntarism (woodwinds)
This could be called the Calvinistic or theocentric aspect of Edwards’ theology (p. 6)
Harmonious constitutionalism (percussion)
All aspects of salvation are interrelated because all are willed together in God’s eternity and according to God’s decree (p. 6)
As the authors conclude a page over, “To enjoy a symphony most fully, one must listen to all the instruments at once.” What they hear in particular is a symphony where the melody starts with the violins and goes back and forth with the other strings. Occassionally, in some movements it shifts to the brass or woodwinds, and all the time the percussion is playing. But in the end, it keeps returning to the string section over and over again.
To me, this is a great analogy, so I’m looking forward to seeing more clearly how well they develop it in the course of this book.