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11 - Jonathan Edwards on Conscience

from Part II - Conscience According to Major Figures and Traditions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 June 2021

Jeffrey B. Hammond
Affiliation:
Faulkner University
Helen M. Alvare
Affiliation:
George Mason University, Virginia
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Summary

Michael McClymond summarizes Jonathan Edwards’s theology of conscience. Edwards concedes that everyone has a conscience. Everyone’s “natural conscience” can perceive right and wrong, but only the converted conscience can fully apprehend God’s moral excellence and beauty. Further, the conscience operates on the principle of “reversibility”: the empathetic orientation of one’s actions considering their effects on others. However, the person with the converted conscience is constantly aware of his propensity to sin and that God’s moral demands are forever correct. Conscience gets stronger and more refined the more it is heeded; conversely, it gets duller the more it is resisted. The faith of true believers removes the stain of a guilty conscience. Even if not redeemed, however, that self-same natural conscience will agree entirely with the justness of God’s righteous punishment for him at the Last Judgment.

Type
Chapter
Information
Christianity and the Laws of Conscience
An Introduction
, pp. 208 - 226
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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References

Cochran, Elizabeth Agnew. Receptive Human Virtues: A New Reading of Jonathan Edwards’s Ethics. University Park, pa: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011.Google Scholar
Danaher, William J. Jr. The Trinitarian Ethics of Jonathan Edwards. Louisville, ky: Westminster John Knox, 2004.Google Scholar
Edwards, Jonathan. Ethical Writings: The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 8, edited by Ramsey, Paul. New Haven, ct: Yale University Press, 1989.Google Scholar
Edwards, Jonathan. The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 73 vols. New Haven, ct: Yale University Press, vols. 1–26; and New Haven, ct: Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University, vols. 27–73. All 73 volumes may be accessed at edwards.yale.edu.Google Scholar
Fiering, Norman. Jonathan Edwards’s Moral Thought and Its British Context. Chapel Hill, nc: University of North Carolina Press, 1981.Google Scholar
Gerstner, John. Steps to Salvation: The Evangelistic Message of Jonathan Edwards. Philadelphia, pa: Westminster Press, 1960.Google Scholar
McClymond, Michael J., and McDermott, Gerald R.. “True Virtue, Christian Love, and Ethical Theory.” In The Theology of Jonathan Edwards, 528–48. New York, ny: Oxford University Press, 2012.Google Scholar
Ramsey, , “Editor’s Introduction.” In Ethical Writings: The Works of Jonathan Edwards, edited by Ramsey, Paul, vol. 8, 1121. New Haven, ct: Yale University Press, 1989.Google Scholar
Spohn, William C. “Religion and Morality in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards,” PhD dissertation, University of Chicago, 1978.Google Scholar
Wilson, Stephen A. Virtue Reformed: Rereading Jonathan Edwards’s Ethics. Leiden: Brill, 2005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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