Jonathan Edwards is one of the most important and influential evangelicals of the past 300 years, and the number of books written about him, not to mention versions of his own writings, signal that importance. Despite this, comparatively little has been written on JE’s pneumatology.
Enter Robert W. Caldwell III. In his dissertation, just recently published (2006) by Paternoster in the series Studies in Evangelical History and Thought, Caldwell explores “what Edwards has to say about spiritual union, the Spirit’s work as the bond of union and the degree to which there is continuity between the Spirit’s work ad intra and ad extra. In response to this inquiry, Caldwell offers the following thesis:
“In the theology of Jonathan Edwards, the Holy Spirit’s activity as the bond of the trinitarian union between the Father and the Son is paradigmatic for all other holy unions in his theology. In the personal union of Christ’s two natures, the mystical union believers have with Christ, and the union of fellowship believers have with each other, the Holy Spirit works ad extra in a manner that is patterned after his inner-trinitarian work.”
Caldwell then proceeds to make a compelling and convincing case that for JE, all of these unions are not merely mediated by the Holy Spirit bu the communication of the Spirit himself. Written under the supervision of the top notch Edwards scholar, Douglas A. Sweeney, Caldwell serves as a helpful guide through the depths of the subject matter and the complexities of JE’s thought.
The book is well-written and does not read like a dissertation. And how many dissertations can you say bring you to moments of awe and near worship to God! Caldwell skillfully blends allowing JE to speak for himself while helping you understand what JE means.
I highly recommend this work as both a guide to Edwards thought and a stimulus to your wonder that God communicates himself to us by the Spirit and draws us into the same bond of union that the Father shares with the Son.