Today marks the release of my first book, Understanding Affections in the Theology of Jonathan Edwards: “The High Exercises of Divine Love.” (Amazon Link | Bloomsbury Link) | ISBN 9780567682246). T&T Clark (a subsidiary of Bloomsbury) is publishing it as part of their series T&T Clark Studies in Systematic Theology. I want to give glory to God for this book, and I am most grateful to T&T Clark for their willingness to publish my work.
A forward to the book was written by Ken Minkema, the Executive Editor of The Works of Jonathan Edwards and of the Jonathan Edwards Center & Online Archive at Yale University. He is also appointed as Research Faculty at Yale Divinity School and as Research Associate at the University of the Free State, South Africa. Dr Minkema served as the outside reader of my dissertation, and encouraged me to its pursue publication.
You can read more about the T&T Clark Studies in Systematic Theology Series here. A full listing of all the books in the series can be found here. The editors of this series, to whom I’m most grateful, are Ivor Davidson (University of Aberdeen, UK), Professor Ian A. McFarland (University of Cambridge, UK), and Philip Ziegler (University of Aberdeen, UK).
T&T Clark posted an author interview with me on their blog here.
The local paper of Granite Falls, the town where I live and minister, also kindly published an article on the book.
You can preview the book with this widget.
The book is bears the following dedication to my wife:
For the beautiful Jennifer,
my dearest companion,
with the sweetest affection
The endorsements were most kind, and I’m grateful for them:
“[This] is an important book for two primary reasons. First, it does a fine job explaining fully a crucial area of Edwards’ thinking; second, it corrects misunderstandings that are prevalent in contemporary Christianity related to that area. What is this crucial area of Edwards’ thinking? Affections. I’ve been waiting for a stand-alone volume that addresses this issue – and the contemporary misunderstanding and misappropriation of it by some parts of the church today – and am glad to see this book in print.” ―Josh Moody, College Church, USA
““Interest in Jonathan Edwards has experienced something of a resurgence recently among Evangelicals, yet treatments of Edwards’s theology often fail to recognize his core anthropology, anachronistically equating his understanding of the category of affections with contemporary notions of “emotion.” Ryan Martin provides the most comprehensive study of Edwards’s thought on matters related to Christian affections, serving as a necessary corrective to contemporary treatments of one of America’s most respected theologians.”” ―Scott Aniol, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, USA
““Jonathan Edwards predicates his argument in Religious Affections on the distinction between affections and passions. Contemporary writers who think only in terms of emotions typically fail to grasp the significance of this distinction, consequently losing much of Edwards’s argument. Ryan Martin has done superior work in tracing the history of this distinction and teasing out its significance for Edwards. His work constitutes an important corrective to several current misconceptions.”” ―Kevin T. Bauder, Central Baptist Seminary, USA
The book is a revision of my doctoral dissertation. In it, I explore a number of questions, all pertaining to the theology of Jonathan Edwards, the celebrated pastor of colonial America and important leader in the First Great Awakening. He authored many important books books on Christian theology, including Freedom of Will, Religious Affections, and many sermons. First and foremost, I try to understand what Jonathan Edwards meant by the term of affections. I argue that his understanding of affections is substantially different from contemporary categories like “emotions.” I also show that Edwards’s understanding of affections came primarily from his Reformed theological background, not from the Enlightenment thinkers of his day. To establish this, I build off the work of Thomas Dixon and survey how Christian theologians before Edwards discussed affective categories like affections and passions (beginning with theologians just a few centuries removed from Christ). Finally, I show how Jonathan Edwards returned to his understanding of affections and passions again and again in his preaching and writing ministry. While I do not go so far as to argue that affections are the center of Edwards’s theology, I note that his theological understanding of affections and passions are a crucial, sustained interest that he returns to again and again throughout his whole career.
I pray that this book does much good to Christ’s church (and beyond) for the glory of God.