Skip to main content

Religious Affections, Part I and II

Back in July, I said I would be reading through Religious Affections, by Jonathan Edwards. I don't know of any readers who planned to follow along with me, so I decided to take my sweet time on this project, reading just a little at a time as devotional reading.

So far, I've finished Parts I & II of Edwards' work and have really enjoyed it. Edwards stretches the mind and the soul, opening up new dimensions of understanding about God and human nature.

The main question he explores in the book is this:
What are the distinguishing qualifications of those that are in favor with God, and entitled to his eternal rewards? Or, which comes to the same thing, What is the nature of true religion? And wherein do lie the distinguishing notes of that virtue and holiness that is acceptable in the sight of God?
In other words, how can we know we are pleasing God? There are certain impulses that should characterize believers and help measure our growth in godliness. But before giving an answer, Edwards explains twelve "unreliable" signs of genuine religious affections in Part II:
  1. It is no sign one way or the other, that religious affections are very great, or raised very high.
  2. ...that they have great effects on the body.
  3. ...that they cause those who have them to be fluent, fervent, and abundant, in talking of the things of religion.
  4. ...that persons did not make them themselves, or excite them of their own contrivance and by their own strength.
  5. ...that they come with texts of Scripture, remarkably brought to the mind.
  6. ...that there is an appearance of love in them.
  7. ...[that people experience] many kinds, accompanying one ...
  8. ...that comforts and joys seem to follow awakenings and convictions of conscience, in a certain order.
  9. ...that they dispose persons to spend much time in religion, and to be zealously engaged in the external duties of worship.
  10. ...that they much dispose persons with their mouths to praise and glorify God.
  11. ...that they make persons that have them exceeding confident that what they experience is divine, and that they are in a good estate.
  12. ...that the outward manifestations of them, and the relation persons give of them, are very affecting and pleasing to the truly godly, and such as greatly gain their charity, and win their hearts.
This is as far as I've gotten in the book, but I've already been challenged against using common "signs" to judge our faith and measure that we are growing in grace. There are many good things on this list, but any of these twelve can be counterfeited by the Enemy and are not sufficient evidence of a genuine walk with God.

I'm looking forward to reading Part III of his book, where Edwards finally addresses what are the distinguishing marks of true religion.


Popular posts from this blog

Herod who??

I must admit, I still get confused by all those Herods mentioned in the New Testament. To keep them straight, I find it helpful to read the biblical text with a genealogy of Herod's family at my side (here's one from the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible).

Well, so much for simplicity. Even this chart looks more like an engineering schematic than a family tree. To boil it all down, there are four key members of Herod's family mentioned in the Gospels...

Herod the Great. This is the original Herod of them all. The very name sent shivers up the spine of ancient Jews. Son of Antipater, he was a cunning politician, ruthless dictator, and brilliant architect. He was responsible for constructing the temple mount in Jerusalem, fortress palaces at Herodium and Masada, and a harbor at Caesarea -- all which continue to astound archaeologists and engineers today. In addition to killing several kin who threatened his throne, Herod murdered all the young boys in Bethlehem at the news that…

A review of the HCSB Study Bible

Today, I finally had a chance to browse through a copy of the new HCSB Study Bible.

The HCSB Study Bible is 2272 pages long (plus a few maps). As expected, the translation is the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) version. It ranks well and rivals the ESV in both exegetical accuracy and literary quality. Some of its unique features are:
Its translation of yahweh as "Yahweh" (instead of LORD) in the OT when referring to the personal name of God (e.g. Ex. 3:15)The translation of doulos as "slave" instead of "servant" or "bondservant" in the New Testament (e.g. Rom. 1:1)The translation of christos as "Messiah" in the New Testament, whenever referring to the Jewish expectation of the Messiah (e.g. Matt. 16:16)Capitalized pronouns when referring to GodThe use of contractions in direct discourse (e.g. "let's go" in Mark 1:38)A wonderful feature called bullet notes (small bullets next to key words that may be unfamiliar, poin…

Restoring old photos of Israel

In his latest newsletter, Todd Bolen explains the painstaking process of restoring old photos to create the 8-volume American Colony and Eric Matson Collection. It’s a fascinating project that really makes you appreciate the end result. Here’s his full article…Shortly after producing a collection of modern-day photographs in the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands (initially released in January 2000), I began work on a supplementary collection that would peel back the recent layers of time to reveal the sites of the Holy Land before the changes brought by modernization.  The initial fruit of this work was the release of 8 volumes of Historic Views of the Holy Land in November 2004.About that same time, I learned that the Library of Congress was digitizing the G. Eric and Edith Matson Negatives.  Between 1966 and 1981, Eric Matson and his beneficiary donated this collection to the Library of Congress. But public access was limited and costly until 2004, when the first negatives were scann…