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Jonathan Edwards, a famous American theologian, preacher, and philosopher described his attitude towards Puritan beliefs and idealism in his personal narrative. His ideas influenced the development of the entire religion in the United States of America. The following paper will discuss and cover Jonathan Edwards’ autobiography and significant beliefs that changed American history.
Jonathan Edwards’ Belief
Jonathan Edwards was promoting the belief of Puritanism and idealism among a certain group of Christians and colonists in the New World of America in general. His main idea was to make people realize that their lives were full of sins. Therefore, he was sticking to his living standards and ideas in order to become a living example of an appropriate Christian’s behavior, which he wanted other colonists to adopt as well (Baym 340). The lifestyle and belief above led to multiple conflicts, tensions, and concerns among the American colonists because people were seeking a higher life quality, whereas their spiritual needs were not addressed as much.
Evidence and Consequences of Edwards’ Belief
The main ideology of Puritan Christians stems from emphasizing God’s sovereignty and righteousness, which also protested the standards of the Catholic Church because the latter one professed that the priest was holier and more spiritual than other believers were. “A true and faithful Christian does not make holy living an accidental thing. It is his great concern. As the business of the soldier is to fight, so the business of the Christian is to be like Christ” (Baym 365).
The quote above explains and gives a clear understanding of Edwards’ attitude towards his belief, faith, and philosophy of how all Christians should act. “It is not by telling people about ourselves that we demonstrate our Christianity. Words are cheap. It is by costly, self-denying Christian practice that we show the reality of our faith” (The Great Awakening). He says that every person should be and act like God in order to remain holy and to be sure of going to heaven after one’s death. Besides, this quotation accents his Puritan ideology and reflects on his inner concerns about the Christians’ behavior (Baym 402). It is an interesting fact that Edwards’ contemporaries did not pay enough attention to religion because they had too many vital problems and issues that occupied their minds for a long period.
Edwards’ Belief’s Affect on Colonial Contexts
There are a plethora of colonialist contexts that were influenced by the Puritan belief and ideology of Jonathan Edwards. For instance, many people who moved from England to the United States of America had a chance to renew their faith and forget about all of their sins that they committed in the territory of their motherland and became dissenting members of the local Church afterward. Most of these people inhabited such states as Massachusetts and Connecticut, where Edwards was promoting his ideology the most (Noll 35).
Moreover, these colonists developed another belief, which stated that both church and the country’s government were under God’s control, although these organizations were addressing separate God’s needs. Therefore, church and state did not segregate from each other until a certain period. All the actions and policies of these organizations were developed and implemented with each other’s help and agreement (The Great Awakening). However, Puritans wanted to be separated and independent from the American government and similar structures, so they established their own community and institution.
Benefits of Edwards’ Belief to the Nation
The Puritan belief of Jonathan Edwards was healthy and beneficial for the American nation due to its influence on people’s understanding and interpretation of the Holy Scripture. Many colonialists were not even aware of religion until they immigrated to the United States of America (The Great Awakening). This belief made the nation wise, culturally developed, and conscious. Although some newcomers were trying to hide their previous life and sins, they acted more intelligently than they used to in their motherlands (The Great Awakening).
It would be proper to mention that Edwards was collaborating with another preacher, Whitefield. Together, they preached to people from Georgia and New England. People who supported their prophecies, opinions, and sermons, united and started influencing their local awakenings, which later grew into the Great Awakening.
The Personal Narrative of Jonathan Edwards that I had a chance to get acquainted with covers the main thoughts, ideas, and revelations of this noble theologian, who developed and popularized the Puritan belief in the United States of America in the eighteenth century. The author also describes his faith journey in this book, which promoted several beliefs. One of them is that only God chooses people who will join Him in heaven or will suffer in hell forever.
His other belief about a Puritan lifestyle was discussed above because it had its significant influence on the American nation and its history in general. Moreover, Jonathan Edwards had his impact on the Church’s segregation from the American government, which let multiple Christian communities of that time receive freedom in their religious actions.
Baym, Nina. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 8th ed., W.W. Norton & Co., 2008.
Noll, Mark A. Americas God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2005.
“The Great Awakening: Spiritual Revival in Colonial America.” Omeka RSS, 2009. Web.