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Showing 1-10 of 51 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 71 reviews
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon October 3, 2016
Is there any question that Jonathan Edwards is one of the United States's greatest religious thinkers and writers? No. Don't argue with me; it's true. Now, why don't people read his books all the time, instead of Joel Osteen or Rick Warren or some other popular, megachurch pastor? Probably because it's a lot harder to read Edwards. Edwards wrote A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections in 1746, and the verbosity and vocabulary reflect that of a learned 18th century clergyman. His style doesn't resound with most 21st century readers.

Archaic style and language aside, The Religious Affections is worth the time it takes to wade through (especially for readers who tire of the breezy, superficial books churned out by popular pastors today). Edwards wants to make the point, still valid 270 years later, that religious "affections," or outward expressions of religion, do not make one a Christian, but should be present in Christians. In fact, "they who have but little religious affection, have certainly but little religion."

What are the affections or signs that someone is a Christian? By their fruits you know them. humility, a changed life, Christ-like attitude, tenderness, an interest in spiritual growth, etc. Edwards encouraged a spiritual striving and a life devoted to the pursuit of holiness. He writes: "The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to love him, and the more uneasy is he at his want of love to him; the more he hates sin, the more he desires to hate it. . . . The more he mourns for sin, the more he longs to mourn for sin. . . . The more he thirsts and longs for God and holiness, the more he longs to love, and breathe out his very should in longings after God." Archaic or not, passages like this in The Religious Affections ought to stoke Christians' fire and encourage them to pursue the religious affections.

Read The Religious Affections in small chunks. Like a gourmet meal, it takes longer to eat, and some may be unfamiliar, but it's delicious and worth the price.
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on June 24, 2014
Overview: The Religious Affections is for very good reason considered one of the most important works of Jonathan Edwards in particular and one of the most excellent and helpful treatises on Christian spirituality in general. Caught in both the glory and the drama of the First Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards was tasked with the responsibility to defend God’s mighty outpouring of grace from both its detractors and its extremists.

In this great work, Edwards sets out to accomplish three major goals (1) he shows from Scripture that the religious affections (“the more vigorous and sensible exercises of the inclination and will of the soul”) are indeed true manifestations of real Christian spirituality and of the holy life (2) he warns of a number of “experiences” that cannot either verify or falsify the reality of one’s professed conversion and (3) he enumerates several factors that are indicative of true conversion and regeneration. Chief among these last factors (as the quote below demonstrates) is the fruit of holy living—or Christian practice—carried out in the believer’s life.

Application: This great work has a number of applications and uses. First and foremost it helps to delineate what true conversion looks like. In Edwards’ day it was hard to prove that one was truly “converted.” Often the Puritans looked for a series of finely ordered “steps” in one’s testimony of professed faith. The burden of proof lay heavy. In our day, it is much easier—we must simply give an “altar call” story, or a similar anecdote of “accepting Jesus into our heart.” Edwards speaks to both extremes by evaluating the conversion experience with a truly Biblical grid of analysis.

Edwards shows that true conversion does indeed transform both the inward man, in his “affections” (love, joy, fear of the Lord, etc.) as well as the outward man in living out the will of God in his daily experience. Pastors who are prayerfully evaluating their flock, as well as those unsure of their own salvation, will find this work deeply helpful in this regard.

Critique: While this particular reviewer is mostly sympathetic to Edwards’ position about conversion, many of my charismatic and Pentecostal friends will likely find some fault with Edwards’ teaching on the inner-life of spiritual experience. Throughout, Edwards is particularly hard on those who claim to have received such things as visions of Christ or strong “impressions” of particular Scripture passages upon the heart as being too easy to manipulate and falsify. While he is surely right in showing that these things cannot prove that one is a Christian, some readers (but not all) will feel he has gone too far in assessing the supernatural revelations of the Holy Spirit to the human mind in a negative fashion.

Best Quote: “From what has been said, it is manifest that Christian practice, or a holy life, is a great and distinguishing sign of true and saving grace. But I may go further and assert that it is the chief of all the signs of grace, both as an evidence of the sincerity of professors unto others, and also to their own consciences” (p. 326-32).

-Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, Florida
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on March 19, 2015
This was my privilege to study this book a second time for a class, and as an older Christian now, there was much more I understood, and appreciated about Edwards' concerns, and his heart as a pastor. I encourage all to read this to understand that if one is loved of God in Christ, and truly loves Christ, then that person will show this love by seeking sincerely, eagerly, and earnestly to pursue holiness, or Christ-likeness, and to do good works for the glory of God. As Jesus said: "If you love me, keep my commandments," and "You will know the tree by the fruit it bears."

A true, Holy-Spiritual experience in the Christian life will lead to Christ-like temperament and Christ-like behavior. Though this reality, should humble us, because the more we understand about how holy and wonderful God is, and the more we are grateful for His free grace to us in Christ, the more we see our own sins, and we long to be more like Him!! "O wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of death?! Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord," is a humble and holy longing for more God, more grace, and more works (Romans 7:24-25).

Read this book prayerfully; it will challenge you; it may be used by God to change you. Examine yourself to see if you're truly a Christian, and seek to make your calling and election sure (2 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Peter 1:9-11). I counsel you to particularly determine before God, whether you seek to live by His commandments by His grace and strength (all 10 of them, especially one that is often ignored in American culture like the fourth commandment on the Sabbath! Remember, many will say "Lord, Lord" though they don't truly know Him). Prayerfully ask God for proper humility to hear from Him. May we let our lights shine, and may others see our good works and glorify our Heavenly Father.
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on March 19, 2017
I was surprised to find how personal the implications of his observations were. That made this more than an abstraction or just information, I profited from it in unexpected ways. He is an extraordinarily engaging writer because of his passion and intellect.
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on June 6, 2015
James states that "pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (chapter 01, v. 27). Jonathan Edwards, in this well grounded essay, shows the biblical concept about true religion. The Scripture is his object of work. The christians are his audience. His argument gives emphasis in the fruits produced by a christian whose life belongs to Jesus. In order to recognize this, one has to be aware of the false prophets and must not trust in his feelings. "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremias, chapter 17, v. 9) Man has to search and develop the wisdom from above, with "is first pure, than peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hipocrisy" ( James chapter 3, v. 17). The author's exposition definitely suceeds in showing the meaning of true religion.
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on June 3, 2012
Edwards shows an amazing level of discernment in this book. Once you spend an hour or two reading and re-reading the first 20 or so pages to make sure you understand what he is talking about the rest of the book flows a lot better.

Keep in mind the context of what Edwards was addressing at this time in history and his points will make more sense as well.
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on November 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.
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on June 26, 2016
It was a very interesting book to read about one of the early church men in the United States. His writing gave historical back ground to one of the Great Awakenings. And how it was misconstrued by many people. Yet how many also faked what was happening so they would not feel left out.
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on March 10, 2017
Classic, should be read by every Christian.
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on October 14, 2016
Provided insight into the mind of one of America's greatest evangelists ... Biblical based
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