Posted by: Billy Marsh | September 26, 2007

Heaven On Earth: Jonathan Edwards the Pilgrim

Heaven on Earth/Stephen Nichols

Last spring SWBTS hosted the regional ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) meeting and as a consequence of those gatherings, several publishers greatly discounted their books at the Seminary LifeWay store. I hit the jackpot that week. I found several priceless books at unbeatable prices (ironic). One of the books that I purchased was Stephen J. Nichols’ Heaven On Earth: Capturing Jonathan Edwards’s Vision Of Living In Between.

Nichols is an Edward’s scholar and a professor at Lancaster Bible College and Graduate School. He earned his Ph.d from Westminster Theological Seminary. In an attempt to highlight Edwards’ heavenly-mindedness, Nichols constructs seven solid chapters each of which are based off of a particular Edwardsian sermon related to heaven and what I like to call, the Sojourner mentality, or perhaps as Edwards might say, the Sojourner reality. Nichols does a profound job of extracting pieces of Edwards’ sermons in order to convey what each one has to say about how to live in between two worlds. The book is a powerful and inspiring read. Endnotes and all, the book maxes out at 142 pages, but in this case, great things really do come in small packages. This book will quickly become one that I read over and over again.

What I would like to do, since I have built my entire blog around the main theme of the Sojourner mentality, hence the title “Joy in the Journey,” instead of simply giving you a book review and endorsement, I will give you a synopsis of each of the major chapters of the book in the likeness of what I’m doing with Schaeffer’s True Spirituality. The many nuances and insights that Nichols highlights from individual Edwards sermons are too profound and poignant for me to quickly breeze over. It would benefit my blog’s theme much more to go a little deeper in my analysis of the content of this book. Doing it this way ensures that many of you will be impacted by this book since I am fully aware that just because I endors it that doesn’t mean you’re out the door in five minutes to go and buy it.

My desire is not to romanticize the Christian life into a cinematic journey but rather to demonstrate from the Word and Christian history that this perspective has been the attitude and mindset of believers throughout the ages. This worldview is a reflection of what I believe, and soon what I hope to show through Nichols’ assessment of Edwards, is the reality of the Christian life. An over-emphasized love for Heaven creates escapism while an over-emphasized love of this world makes you too at home in a place that is slowly passing away and can lead to naturalism while the former could lead to an extreme view of supernaturalism or mysticism. I hope through these studies on the Sojourner theme to help you strike a balance between the two by showing that the Scriptures command it while history illustrates it.

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