Reading on Jonathan Edwards

I decided to read a biography on Jonathan Edwards because last year I was grabbed by a biography on America's first foreign missionary, Adoniram Judson. It was one of those books that God has used to increase my faith and joy in him and I probably would have never read it if not for John Piper's biographical message on Judson. After listening to Piper's conference message on Robert Murray M'Cheyne I thought, "I like biographies of men like this. I want to read more." I did a Twitter request for recommendations and got Marsden's biography of Edwards. Good. I've been interested in the American Puritan tradition lately so I picked it up. I'm not that far into it but Marsden has my attention.

I posted this over at the Boar's Head Tavern days ago but wanted to write a bit more about it. There I wrote:
I started reading a biography on Jonathan Edwards last night by George Marsden. I’m not that far into it but am already fascinated by Edwards. I think 90% of it is that Edwards is fascinating but Marsden makes the rest. He appears to be a very even-handed historian. I don’t know what his faith commitment is or if he has one, but I stopped and pondered for a while this statement:
If there is an emphasis that appears difficult, or harsh, or overstated in Edwards, often the reader can better appreciate his perspective by asking the question: “How would this issue look if it really were the case that bliss or punishment for a literal eternity was at stake?”

Great question. In fact, I’m thinking about looking at all the issues I face with that same question on top of several other critical questions. Or for my own purposes, “How can I preach, teach, love, and serve so that people get a taste of eternal bliss and therefore crave it so much they must have the Source?”

Marsden not only wants to inform with his book, he wants people to be interested in the topic which is the person of Jonathan Edwards. As a writer, I can't think of anything more rewarding to hear than if someone said, "You increased my interest in the subject and made me want to know even more." This is what I want to do for Jesus. I want people to look at my actions and hear my words and say to themselves, "I've got to know this Jesus!" so they can taste for themselves and know what a treasure he is. Could a life be better spent than to help people savor the preciousness of Jesus and the joy of being his?

Marsden writes in the introduction, "Even today there are vast numbers of Americans who, although committed to live at peace with other religious groups, believe it is a matter of eternal life or death to convert members of those groups to their own faith." It appears he knows his audience will display some incredulity about this fact (though I expect that they won't whether Christians or not). The thing is, it's not our life or death that is important - it's yours. We're willing to give life or limb in order to see that you know Jesus Christ. He is precious. Our lives and our safety are not.

I think too many non-Christians see our attempts at evangelism as number-gathering for a pyramid scheme. I care, and from what little I know of Edwards I think he joins me, about you finding the greatest and deepest joy a human being can have. It's not money, power, orgasms, or sights - it's Jesus.