Thursday, January 17, 2008

How Edwards defined life

"In the Edwardses' world, the meaning of life was found in intense loves, including earthly loves."

George M. Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life, page 497.

If I were in conversation with Jonathan Edwards and he began a sentence by saying, "The meaning of life is . . .," and then he paused, I would await the completion of that sentence with eagerness. Here is an intellectual genius. Here is a man of God. Here is a formidable theologian. Here is a wise pastor. And he is about to propose to me THE meaning of life. "Okay, Pastor Edwards, I am so listening. Please complete that sentence for me."

Then he says, "Ray, the meaning of life is intense loves, including earthly loves." Not moderate loves. Not play-it-safe loves. Not this-won't-cost-you-anything loves. Not this-won't-thrill-you-to-your-core loves. Not let's-dabble-in-the-shallows loves. But intense loves. Brightly burning loves. All-consuming loves.

Deep in our timid hearts is a desire to be loved mildly, nothing more. That way, we retain control, we set the terms, we avoid risk. Our loving God, in his ferocious intensity, will have none of it. He defines the meaning of our lives, and we are saved from our anemic loves and brought by degrees into intense loves, like his own.

"Thank you, Pastor Edwards. I need to think about this."