In a world saturated with social tolerance, humanism, and liberalism in all its many facets, Jonathan
Edwards: America's Genius is so satisfying to the soul. This biography of the life of Jonathan Edwards is much more than just a retelling of the major events and milestones that shaped his life. Each chapter is finely tuned to present a deep spiritual truth that one can chew on for some time in personal application. Because of these powerful life applications and the thought-provoking material, this book would be best suited for high school students and adults. It would also be wonderful as a family devotional.
Jonathan Edwards was a writer, preacher, and missionary who sparked spiritual awakening throughout the colonies of New England. In an age of scientific discovery, Edwards saw God's beauty displayed most perfectly through nature. . . . Though Edwards never raised his voice behind the pulpit, God used his clear, forceful thinking to persuade thousands of people to give their lives to Christ. . . . Strict discipline and prayer governed his days, along with the great joy that comes from delighting in God's presence.
These statements from the introduction are an excellent indication of what lies ahead in every chapter of this book. The writing is of such a high and captivating nature that I found that I had to ration my daughter's time with this work. It is so easy to consume chapter after chapter. However, in reading just one at a time and pausing, the reader is able to ponder the deep spiritual truths so that they achieve their full impact.
For family devotional use, there are topics for further thought in each chapter. These explorations into the deeper meaning of the text and its relevant application to our lives elevate the text to a level that is so much more than just a timeline of Edwards's life (although there is a timeline provided in the final pages of the book). One such topic for further thought comes from Chapter Five: "Cured by Sickness."
When was the last time you got really sick? Perhaps it was the flu or stomach virus. Remember how terrible you felt? Even though life is painful, God has given us pain to protect us. If we couldn't feel pain, we would hurt our bodies without knowing it. God also uses pain to draw us into his presence. The Psalmist declared, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word" (Psalm 119:67). Jonathan often fell sick. He suffered from fever, exhaustion, and eventually smallpox. But Jonathan understood that it is only in the darkest moments, the painful and sorrowful moments, that he saw Jesus the brightest. How has pain pointed you to God?
Prayer: "Jesus, we confess to you today our struggles with pain and suffering. We confess our inabilities to handle hardship the way you handled it--without sin. Teach us to trust you even in the difficult times. For we know that you go before us, behind us, and beside us on this journey of life. Amen."
In a day when government leaders, professional athletes, television stars, and business leaders sometimes attack our faith, it is that much more important to reintroduce our children to the great men of faith who had an impact on our nation. For those who desire further reading on Edwards, the author has provided a wonderful bibliography of sources on Edwards's life as well as a list of Edwards's own works. Jonathan
Edwards: America's Genius is one of 11 books in the Christian Focus Trailblazer series. My husband and I will be sure to look for others to introduce our children to other great men of our faith and to show them how they too can shine in an increasingly dark world.