For twenty-five years, I have read and re-read books by Jonathan Edwards and about Jonathan Edwards. The books about Jonathan Edwards are weighty and worthwhile. Some Edwardsian quotes seem to appear in nearly every volume. For instance, “Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God.” Or, “True religion, in great part, consists in holy affections.” These Puritan treasures never wear out, get old, or bore this reader. Rather, they only magnify the supreme value of reading old books, especially books by and about Jonathan Edwards. Sean Michael Lucas’ work, God’s Grand Design is no exception.
Lucas sets out to unpack the theological vision of Jonathan Edwards in this moderately sized work.
Part One: Redemption History
Part one explores Redemption History which begins most fittingly with a discussion on the glory of God, arguably the Puritan divine’s favorite topic. Lucas notes, “Far from focusing on a merely individual salvation, Edwards rooted his understanding of the Christian life in the cosmic purpose of God himself – namely, for God to glorify himself and enjoy himself forever.” The author does a notable job at nailing the high points and accurately reflects the theology of Jonathan Edwards. He writes with great lucidity and provides ample citations from primary resources.
Part Two: Redemption Applied
Part two is an excellent overview of Edward’s view on religious affections, virtue, and the means of grace. The author caps off his discussion with Edward’s vision of the Christian life – a life that is compared to a journey heavenward. He explores Edward’s passion for living and dying well – all to the glory of God. Built into his discussion is Edward’s pastoral goal to help his flock arrive to heaven safely. Edwards notes, “It is sweet to the soul to love Christ. It is an holy affection that fills the soul with sweetness. And then you will have the pleasure of living a life of communion with Christ, which will be a very sweet life.” . Indeed, his passion was to help Christ-followers live with all their hearts to the glory of God.
God’s Grand Design captures the vision of Jonathan Edwards faithfully and joyfully. It is a welcome friend to first time readers and a solid reminder for long time admirers of America’s greatest intellectual.