Charity and Its Fruits: Review and Reading Plan

September 6, 2012 — 4 Comments

9781433529702If it’s alright with you, I’m going to deviate from my review script just a tad on this one. Since I know you’re probably curious, this is for a couple of reasons. First, unlike most of the books I review, this one isn’t technically new. Rather, it’s a new edition of Jonathan Edwards’ classic Charity and Its Fruits: Living in The Light of God’s Love. The book has been around for a while and since I don’t intend to offer a critical interaction with Edwards’ thought in the book, I need to take a different tack. Instead, I’m going to review this particular edition of the book.

The second way I’m deviating from the script is by offering a read-a-long schedule for anyone who wants to make their way through the book this fall. As I was getting into Charity and Its Fruits, I decided it would be a great introduction to Jonathan Edwards for the guys in the Marturo Collective, and perhaps as they read, they could pass insights along to friends who will probably not get around to reading Edwards.

Why This Edition?

Thanks to Kyle Strobel, Charity and Its Fruits has received an upgrade that greatly improves readability. I’m not even gonna beat around the bush: I think this is now the best entry way into Jonathan Edwards for the average Christian reader.

There are certainly other introductions to Edwards that help orient the uninitiated, but I think this is the best edition of one of Edwards’ works that will introduce one not just to his thought, but to his actual writings. In this updated edition, Strobel goes through and cleans up Edwards’ internal outlining style, and also defines some of his more outdated terminology. The introduction also orients readers to Edwards life and thought before giving a more detailed overview of this particular work of Edwards which is comprised of 15 sermons on 1 Corinthians 13. You can actually read that introduction for yourself by clicking here if you’d like.

Beyond the introduction though, Strobel offers readers a nice clean text with numerous side bars filled with either insightful connections to other parts of Edwards’ writings or quotes from Edwards himself. The result is an edition of Charity and Its Fruits that both introduces you to Edwards through perhaps his most famous sermon series, but also situates the material in the context of his overall body of work. Because of that, I think this is not only the best edition to have of Charity and Its Fruits itself, but is where someone who has never read anything by Jonathan Edwards should start their reading journey.

Reading Schedule

If that’s you, and you’d like to read-a-long with us this fall, here’s how we’re going to do it:

  • Sept. 3-7 Introduction (so get the book, or click the link above!)
  • Sept. 10-14 Sermon 1 (each sermon is about 20 pages of reading)
  • Sept. 17-21 Sermon 2
  • Sept. 24-28 Sermon 3
  • Oct. 1-5 Sermon 4
  • Oct. 8-12 Sermon 5
  • Oct. 15-19 Sermon 6
  • Oct. 22-26 Sermon 7
  • Oct. 29-Nov.2 Sermon 8
  • Nov. 5-9 Sermon 9
  • Nov. 12-16 Sermon 10
  • Nov. 19-23 Sermon 11
  • Nov. 26-30 Sermon 12
  • Dec. 3-7 Sermon 13
  • Dec. 10-14 Sermon 14
  • Dec. 17-21 Sermon 15
  • Dec. 24-28 Conclusion

For an investment of about 20 pages a week, you could read this book by Edwards by the end of the year. If you’re looking for something that will spark your joy in God and stir your heart for Christ, this is a great book to read. It is simultaneously intense theology and practical insights. Or, I could just say, it’s a pretty typical book by Jonathan Edwards.

Final Thoughts

Prior to going to seminary, I hadn’t read anything by Jonathan Edwards. By only introduction to him was through footnotes in John Piper books. But, since seminary is time in your life when it becomes normal to hang out for long hours with old dead white guys, I made my way into some of Edwards writings, particularly his thoughts on the Trinity. It had such an impact on me that I chose to do a further independent study in Edwards’ as well as John Owen’s trinitarian thought.

Most recently, I’ve been reminded of the importance of the Trinity not just for confessional belief, but for our joy as well. I’ll have more to say about when it comes to October’s book giveaway, but in the meantime, I’d just like to encourage you to dip into Edwards writing if you haven’t before. And if you do, I think this new edition of Charity and Its Fruits from Crossway is the place to start. Edwards is often not even close to easy to work your way through, but as John Piper has been fond of saying, “Raking is easy, but all you get is leaves. Digging is hard, but you just might find diamonds.” Edwards meditations on 1 Corinthians 13 is sure to yield many diamonds for your further study and delight.

Book Details

[You're reading this review of Charity and Its Fruits because I asked Crossway for a review copy and they said yes!]

Nate

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I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

4 responses to Charity and Its Fruits: Review and Reading Plan

  1. What works of Owen did you find helpful in getting a grasp on his Trinitarian thought? I am slowly working my way through Communion with the Triune God and I have found it immensely helpful in understanding his worldview. Love Owen, love Edwards.

    • I found Owen’s stand alone works, The Glory of Christ and The Holy Spirit: His Works and Power very helpful, but he also has a discourse on the Trinity. I could send you the PDF of the paper I did for Horrell, if you’d like.

  2. Nate, thanks for the review. I hope the book proves to be a blessing. Great call on Owen as well. In my forthcoming book on Edwards’s theology, I compare the two at several key points. I love learning from brilliant and pious minds.

    kyle

    • Kyle,

      Thanks for stopping by to read the review, I really like what you’ve done with Edwards book. I did see the forthcoming books you’ve got and am looking forward to hopefully reading and reviewing those as well!

      Nate

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