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The Theology of Jonathan Edwards$
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Michael J. McClymond and Gerald R. McDermott

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199791606

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199791606.001.0001

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(p.149) 10 Apologetics
The Theology of Jonathan Edwards

Michael J. McClymond

Gerald R. McDermott

Oxford University Press

Although Edwards is more often remembered as a defender of Calvinism in particular rather than Christianity in general, his works reveal three types of apologetic arguments. First, Edwards argued against deism by attempting to show the insufficiency of natural reason in discovering God. This may be referred to as the “external” argument. Second, Edwards appealed to what may be call the “internal” argument. Set against the backdrop of Locke's philosophy, Edwards believed that the Christian possessed a first-hand spiritual perception that carried immediate certainty. After conversion, the mind was illumined in ways that were impossible beforehand. A third apologetic strategy in the Edwards corpus may be called the “implicit” argument. Here Edwards sought to turn the tables against the Enlightenment by absorbing the best ideas of skeptical thinkers and then adapting them for Christian use.

Keywords:   apologetics, metaphysics, Enlightenment, reason, epistemology, perception

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