The false God of Jonathan Edwards

I read Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” recently. I had read this quote in critiques, but having read the entire sermon, it aptly paints the picture Edwards paints of God throughout the sermon.

“The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times so abominable in his eyes as the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours.”  – Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

Edwards’ god looks nothing like Jesus and, hence, nothing like the Father.

Photo by Dan Edge on Unsplash

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” Hebrews 1:1-3.

Edwards’ god does not look like the Peter’s or Ezekiel’s God.

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

“‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure at all in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live.’” Ezekiel 33:11

Again, Edwards’ god looks nothing like God as revealed in Jesus.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:6-9 

Edwards’ god resembles pagan gods rather than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I’m by no means an expert on the Egyptian, Canaanite, Mesopotamian, or Greco/Roman gods, nor any other mythical gods of various regions and cultures, but I know enough to differentiate Yahweh from them because of Jesus.

As Brian Zhand says, “God has always been like Jesus.” God does not “abhor” us; he loves us.

“’For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.’” John 3:16

“But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

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