This article critically examines Jonathan Edwards’s doctrine of the Trinity with a particular focus upon his understanding of the person of the Holy Spirit. While his restatement of Augustinian orthodoxy served the church well during a time of great doctrinal heterodoxy, it created some problems of its own. These problems were rooted in his use of philosophical idealism, his reliance upon trinitarian analogies, and his adapted doctrine of perichoresis.
This article surveys the state of Edwards studies today, focusing particularly on its philosophical theologians who have zeroed in on Edwards’s doctrine of God. It addresses current debates over dispositionalism, reviews a new book by Kyle Strobel, and criticizes recent uses of analytical philosophy in analyzing Edwards’s doctrine of God.
A great deal of research has been done on the life and theology of Jonathan Edwards. However, there is a dearth of interest as it pertains to Edwards’s ecclesiology. As such, while certain moments in Edwards’s ministry dealing with excommunication have been dealt with, there is a need to look not only at the cases he oversaw, but also the theology that undergirded that practice of discipline. Setting Edwards in his historical context and looking specifically at both his ecclesiology and his doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, this article demonstrates how these doctrines coincided for Edwards to form a practice of church discipline that was exacting and rigorous in relation to many of his contemporaries in whose churches discipline was largely on the decline.