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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 Question of Development: Did Edwards Change?

The Question of Development: Did Edwards Change?

(p.77) 5 The Question of Development: Did Edwards Change?
The Theology of Jonathan Edwards

Michael J. McClymond

Gerald R. McDermott

Oxford University Press

Contrary to Perry Miller's claim that Edwards's thinking did not change over the course of his life, this chapter identifies five “turns” in his thought that were prompted by his social milieu: an Experiential-Empirical Turn, an ethical-rigorist turn, an ecclesial-sacramental turn, a Calvinistic-controversial turn, and a cultural-historical turn. Although foundational concepts such as beauty, being, consent, and holiness are consistently emphasized from his adolescence to his death, each turn reflects a particular concern for a changing context. As such, Edwards is best characterized as an “open thinker,” never seeking to create a system of timeless truths.

Keywords:   Perry Miller, culture, history, Calvinism, ethics, experience, sacraments, ecclesiology

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