Reviews - What do customers think about The Religious Affections: How Man's Will Affects His Character Before God?
Amazing book Jun 15, 2008
I went to a Sarah Vowell talk. She talked about American History. She had a fascination with Puritans. She disparaged "Sinners in the hand of an Angry God" and Edwards. I wanted to ask her if she will read any other book by Edwards. If so, she would realise that his portrait of the beauty of God and of Holiness is far more powerful than his view of Hell. He is one of the greatest thinkers that the North American continent has ever produced and Vowell was judging him on one short sermon.
Don't get me wrong. This book is dry in spots. The language is a little convoluted. He is so systematic and precise, I wanted to skip ahead, but that would have been a mistake. It took me forever to get through it. I read it because Piper recommended it, but I stuck with it because my soul was being fed. Even in the first few chapters where he is setting up his argument, he throws out sentences about how we should enjoy God, how we should not judged others, and how we can better live the Christ life. He taught me how I should enjoy God and how I should more accurately view salvation. Every body should read this book and read it slowly. The prose lulled me to sleep and then he gave me another insight into the Christian life I never thought about before.
I like Piper, but this book is far better than anything Piper has written. This is one of the main sources where Piper derives his "Christian Hedonism." People criticise Piper because they think he is flippant. They think Christian Hedonism doesn't address suffering and other aspects of the Christian life. They should read this book. Our enjoyment of God and our desire for God is what sustains us in our suffering. It is a thirst we will never fully quenched. It is a well in which we will never reach bottom. Piper's theology is not new and it is not shallow. He draws his theology from the deepest and most thoughtful writers of Christian history. "Religious Affections" will deepen your walk with God.
The most profound analysis of spiritual experience ever written Nov 18, 2007
The Religious Affections is probably the most profound analysis of spiritual experience ever written - and by the most brilliant philosopher/theologian to ever come from North America (and possibly the English language).
Jonathan Edwards wrote this book after the Great Awakening with which he was closely involved. He wrote as both a friend, defending the authenticity of revivals - and also as a critique, warning against putting trust in things which were not certain signs of genuine Spirit-wrought affections.
His treatise takes three parts. In part one he defines his terms and gives twelve reasons why genuine religion (i.e. Christian spirituality - "religion," in Edwards day, did not have the negative connotations that it carries today) consists much in the affections. The affections, for Edwards, are more than mere emotions - they are the strong and lively inclinations of the will, seated in the human heart.
Part two discusses twelve things which are not certain signs of true religious affections. These are things which Edwards warned should not be trusted as evidences of grace OR discarded as evidences that the Holy Spirit has NOT worked in a saving way. They are not indicators one way or the other.
Part three is the most lenghty and examines twelve things which are signs of a true work of the grace, wrought by God's holy Spirit in the heart. This is where Edwards is at his best - carefully, logically, biblically, and passionately describing the true evidences of regeneration. His analysis is keen, his thoughts clear, his argument orderly, his scholarship extensive, his knowledge of Scripture profuse, and his understanding of the human heart profound.
This particular edition - produced by Yale and edited by John Smith - is the best critical edition in print. The introduction and notes on the text are very helpful, as Smith summarizes Edwards' arguments and backgrounds the Puritan writers and their books which Edwards quotes in Religious Affections. This volume also includes Edwards' related correspondence with Thomas Gillespie from Scotland - this being the first time the complete correspondence has been printed in the same volume with the Affections.
This is not an easy book to read. Edwards takes getting used to. But it is very worthwhile. I'm currently reading it for the third time and I continue to find it useful. I highly recommend it for pastors and preachers and all Christians who yearn for a personal and corporate work of the Spirit in revival and spiritual awakening.
Classic Work by a Great Thinker and Theologian Jun 21, 2007
This is one of the three Edwards works every Christian should read, along with Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God and The Prevailing Notion of the Freedom of the Will... (the original title was a mile long!). Sinners is the shortest read, then this, then Freedom. This will help you understand the Great Awakening from Edwards perspective, while kindling in you a passion to know God more intimately.
Rich, Rewarding, and Convicting May 30, 2006
This is one of the great devotional Christian classics of the 18th century, but it still packs a mighty punch today. It began its life as a series of sermons preached by Edwards to his Northampton congregation in 1742 and 1743, and was first published in 1746. Edwards discusses the place of religious fervor and feelings in the Christian life. For those who prefer a more staid and serene Christian existence, Edwards discusses the prevalence of such scripturally based affections as love, joy, desire, compassion, and zeal. He concludes this opening section by asking how can people sit and hear about "the unparalleled love of the innocent, and holy, and tender Lamb of God, manifested in His dying agonies, His bloody sweat, His loud and bitter cries, and bleeding heart, and all this for enemies, to redeem them from deserved eternal burnings, and to bring to unspeakable and everlasting joy and glory, - and yet be cold and heavy, insensible and regardless! Where are the excesses of our affections proper, if not here?"
After this stirring salvo, Edwards then addresses those who have gone overboard in emphasizing emotional experiences by giving 12 false signs which are thought by many to be indicative of someone who is experiencing true religious affections from God. Many people trust in the depthness of their emotions, the zeal for doing churchwork, the experiences they have had when a scripture verse came to mind, the appearance of love in a person's life, etc, but these things in and of themselves are not conclusive proof of God's divine grace.
Then in the body of the book, Edwards discusses 12 clear signs that God is at work in the life, and the chief sign is that there is a greater appreciation and love for God for who He is and not primarily for what you can get from Him.
Another sign that you are expression truly divine religious affections is that you continue to live for Christ every day. If you have one or two days in church where you feel genuinely inspired and then go back to living a life of sin, then you have not experienced a genuine awakening from God, because when God awakens you, you will be changed forever. Everything you do in life will be motivated by a selfless love for God and for His divine qualities and a selfless love for others.
This book was a shattering read for me because I have often looked upon the religious experiences in my life as proof that I was 'in the Lord,' or proof that I was walking with the Lord, when in actuality, a changed life is the proof.
I should also say that the book is a bit wordy. Many sentences are almost a whole paragraph long. You really have to concentrate to get the main idea in certain portions of the book. The reader not used to 18th century writing might have to adjust to these long and sometimes meandering sections.
But you will be greatly rewarded if you give this book the time and study that it deserves.
Must Read! Mar 23, 2006
An essential work on Christian faith and its natural manifestation in human emotion. Written by arguably the greatest Calvinist preacher to ever live.