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Models for Reformation: Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

By Jay Rogers
Published March 31, 2008

Jonathan Edwards, sometimes known as the postmillennialist’s postmillennialist, is best known for his role in the Great Awakening, which began as a revival in several churches along the Connecticut River Valley. Through his preaching, revivalistic fervor spread like wildfire throughout the colonies. Evangelistic zeal and millennial hopes went hand and hand. Edwards’ preaching that the millennium would commence in America fueled reformation zeal within our embryonic nation.

In his work, History of Redemption, Edwards saw all of human history as a progressive march toward victory for the kingdom of God. Edwards believed that revivals in the colonies were but a forerunner of what would commence in centuries to come – the ultimate glorious light of a “Golden Age.” He taught that history moves through a pulsation of seasons of revival and spiritual awakening; that there are times of retreat and advance; that the work of revival is carried out by “remarkable outpourings of the Spirit.”

Says Edwards: “Time after time, when religion seemed to be almost gone, and it was come to the last extremity, then God granted a revival, and sent some angel or prophet, or raised up some eminent person, to be an instrument of their reformation.” Edwards himself was to be the instrument of New England’s reformation in the 1730s and ’40s. He always insisted that there would be times of conflict, remissions and lulls between the sovereign outpourings of the Spirit. A decline in the spiritual and moral character of our nation, according to Edwards, is to be interpreted as a preparation for an even greater outpouring.


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Massacre of Innocence (DVD)

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Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

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The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

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