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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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The Church

The Church

(p.451) 28 The Church
The Theology of Jonathan Edwards

Michael J. McClymond

Gerald R. McDermott

Oxford University Press

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

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