I am so thankful for Dane Ortlund’s new book, Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God. As George Marsden notes in his foreword, “Books such as Edwards on the Christian Life are especially welcome as part of the current Edwards revival precisely because Edwards is so many-sided and complex. The essence of his theology needs to be distilled from his many writings and to be presented in practical terms for Christians today. Dane Ortlund does just that. Reading Edwards’s own works can inspire Christians today, but often it is best to start with a more accessible introduction, such as the present one.”
In Ortlund’s introduction he provides an outstanding overview of where he is going:
Our strategy will be to ask twelve questions about the Christian life and provide, from Edwards, corresponding answers. These will form the chapters of this book, with a final thirteenth chapter diagnosing four weaknesses in Edwards’s view of the Christian life. Twelve chapters identify what we can learn from Edwards; one chapter identifies what he could learn from us. In brief the twelve questions and answers are:
1. What is the overarching, integrating theme to Edwards’s theology of the Christian life?
2. How is this heart-sense of beauty ignited? How does it all get started? What must happen for anyone to first glimpse the beauty of God?
3. Having begun, what then is the essence of the Christian life? What does seeing God’s beauty create in us? What’s the heart and soul of Christian living?
4. How does love fuel the Christian life? What’s the non-negotiable of all non-negotiable that will keep us loving? What does divine beauty give to us?
5. And what uniquely marks such love and joy? What is the aroma of the Christian life? What does Edwards diagnose about the Christian life that is most important for recovery today?
6. Where do I go to get this love, joy, and gentleness? How can I find it? What,
concretely, sustains this kind of life, through all our ups and downs?
7. But as I go to the Bible, what do I do with it as I read? How do I own it, make it mine,
turn it into this joy-fueled love?
8. What then is the overall flavor of the Christian life? What is the aura, the feel, of following Christ in a world of moral chaos and pain?
9. As new birth, Bible, prayer, and all the rest go in, what comes out? What is the fruit of the Christian life?
10. Who is the great enemy of Christian living? Who wishes above all to prevent loving, joyful, gentle lives?
11. What is the great concern of the Christian life? Toward what, supremely, should our
efforts be directed as we walk with God?
12. Finally, what does all this funnel into? When will we be permanently and fully and unfailingly alive to beauty? What, above all else, is the great hope of the Christian life?