Intimations of an Environmental Ethic in the Writings of Jonathan Edwards

John Gatta

in Making Nature Sacred

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780195165050
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835140 | DOI:
 Intimations of an Environmental Ethic in the Writings of Jonathan Edwards

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Although the renowned Calvinist divine Jonathan Edwards scarcely fits the conventional image of a nature writer, his work embodies a theology of Creation that has important implications for environmental ethics. As such, his ethical philosophy anticipates--in several surprising but instructive ways—the twentieth-century “land ethic” set forth by Aldo Leopold in his Sand County Almanac. Edwards’s notion of “benevolence to Being in general,” as articulated in The Nature of True Virtue, is a theocentric ideal that resists the anthropocentric assumption that nature exists solely to fulfill human needs and desires. Edwards’s vision of Creation as an all-encompassing and sacred beauty thus anticipates the modern sense of “ecology” that likewise affirms the interactive unity of all living and nonliving things.

Keywords: Jonathan Edwards; Creation; Aldo Leopold; land ethic; environmental; virtue; religion; benevolence; beauty; ecology

Chapter.  7545 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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