Chapter

The Church

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199791606.003.0028
The Church

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The controversy that Edwards had with his congregation over admission to the Lord's Supper has overshadowed his larger teaching on the church. Contrary to a still-common impression, Edwards was not a religious individualist or subjectivist, but had a strong conception of the church as a corporate entity and institution, and even a tilt—in his Humble Attempt—toward ecumenical expressions of visible unity among Christians. Edwards's ecclesiology was rooted in his understanding of the Trinity as an eternal community of love. The church as a human and historical institution was flawed, and Edwards reserved his sharpest barbs for Roman Catholicism, which he associated with Antichrist and with the persecution of dissenters. Regarding Anglicanism, Lutheranism, and Orthodoxy, Edwards had positive things to say, and he expressed his substantial agreement with Presbyterianism during his later years. Edwards’ ecclesiology overlapped his eschatology when he spoke of the “glorious times” that lay in store for the church.

Keywords: church; ecclesiology; sacraments; Trinity; ecumenism; Anglican; Lutheran; Orthodox; Catholic; Antichrist; eschatology

Chapter.  5802 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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