Conversion: A Divine and Supernatural Light

Michael J. McClymond and Gerald R. McDermott

in The Theology of Jonathan Edwards

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199791606
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932290 | DOI:
Conversion: A Divine and Supernatural Light

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Edwards agreed with his Puritan predecessors that preparation normally comes before conversion. He preached the necessity of the means of grace but argued they could not bring grace by themselves. Instead, a divine light is necessary to give new vision of God and divine things. This divine and supernatural light imparts “the sense of the heart” that is the only kind of knowledge that transforms. Edwards used frameworks of illumination and infusion to resist the Arminian impulse to see conversion as the gradual development of a person's God-given but natural abilities. His conception of conversion was to some extent formulated in terms of Lockean empiricism, but the source of its content was Puritan and biblical. While for Edwards regeneration was immediate and instantaneous, he believed conversion was an event that sometimes takes place after regeneration.

Keywords: conversion; divine light; means of grace; illumination; infusion; sense of the heart; Locke; empiricism

Chapter.  6731 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christian Theology

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