Jonathan Edwards

Michael J. McClymond

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Emotion

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780195170214
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Jonathan Edwards

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  • Sociology of Religion
  • Christianity
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Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758)—pastor, philosopher, theologian, and Calvinist saint—was a man of deep piety and a meticulous observer of others' spiritual experiences. He devoted much of his life to the analysis and interpretation of religious emotions, which he called “affections.” Today, most scholars regard Edwards as the greatest theologian in American history, and his writings have had vast influence in both church and academy. Edwards might be dubbed the patron saint of religious revival and revivalism. Like his Puritan predecessors, Edwards saw a dichotomy between true, God-given, and grace-filled religion on the one hand and false, counterfeit, hypocritical, and non-gracious religion on the other. This article examines Edwards's views on religious emotions such as understanding, inclination, affection, passion, and love. It also discusses his treatment of the “new sense,” also referred to as the “spiritual sense,” or “sense of the heart.” Moreover, Edwards's philosophy regarding enthusiasm, visions, and the ambiguous status of imagination is discussed. The article concludes by considering Edwards's legacy concerning religion and emotion.

Keywords: Jonathan Edwards; Calvinism; affections; religious emotions; spiritual sense; enthusiasm; visions; imagination; understanding; love

Article.  6414 words. 

Subjects: Sociology of Religion ; Christianity ; Religious Studies

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