How to Use This Course
This advanced class challenges students to dig deeper into Scripture while examining Jonathan Edwards’ classic work Religious Affections. Through twenty units, Dr. Biehl examines the arguments raised in the book and poses numerous questions and points for discussion.
Contemporary readers unfamiliar with Edwards’ 18th Century English have found Religious Affections an arduous read. Yet, the greater difficulty reading Edwards, I believe, is following the comprehensive and exacting nature of his arguments. Edwards’ definitions and explanations are meticulous and exhaustive, his sentences are long and weighty, while the logic of a single point can carry on for pages. Few contemporary readers are trained to think as carefully as 18th Century theologians, let alone one as profound as Edwards. His arguments are carefully and brilliantly crafted, but they require time and effort to grasp.
The following summary and outline of Edwards’ monumental classic was developed for application to a teaching setting to help address this particular need. The logic, flow, and structure of Edwards’ arguments are more easily seen in the format of a detailed outline. So designed, the study guide is intended to supplement, not replace, the reading of Religious Affections. Edwards chose his words carefully, so any summary or abridgment of his words will necessarily diminish the brilliance of his argumentation. Thus, my hope is that this study guide will provide an additional aid to encourage the direct study of Religious Affections.
The study guide is divided into twenty teaching modules, with discussion questions following each module. As Edwards’ theological insights are as applicable today as they were at the time of its initial publication in 1746, the discussion questions are designed to help teachers and students apply them to their own heart and to contemporary Christianity in general. Scripture references are sometimes written out to expedite the pace of the study, while references listed without text allow teachers and students to look up verses to interact with their own Bibles as part of the study.
Quotations in the study guide are taken from the Banner of Truth version of Religious Affections, but are all cross referenced to the Yale edition. Thus, the study guide can be used with both the Banner of Truth or Yale versions.
This course does not include gradable quizzes or tests. It includes numerous study questions that can be graded, if desired.
Download – Recommended Reading
Self-paced Comprehensive study guide, advanced course divided into twenty units
Part One: Background, Nature, and Importance of Religious Affections
- Introduction to Jonathan and Sarah Edwards
- The Context and Occasion of the Writing of The Religious Affections: The Glories, Evils, and Confusion of the Great Awakening
- The Essence of True Christianity
- The Nature and Definition of Religious Affections
- Scriptural Evidence of the Centrality and Importance of Religious Affections to the Christian Life
- Implications for Proper Theology and Christian Living
Part Two: Uncertain Signs that Religious Affections are the Work of God in a True Believer
- Religious Fervor and Zeal
- Great Physical Effects on the Body (fainting, groaning, shaking, etc.)
- Fluent, Fervent, and Abundant Religious Talk
- That Affections Seem to Be from an External Supernatural Source
- That Religious Affections Come with Texts of Scripture in the Mind
- The Presence of Love
- The Presence of Many Kinds of Religious Affections Accompanying Each Other
- That Joy and Comfort Follow Conviction and Mourning for Sin
- Great Time and Energy Spent in Religious Activity and Worship
- Abundant Praise to God
- Great Assurance of One’s Salvation
- That One’s Religious Affections and Testimonies Move the Hearts of Saints
Part Three: True Signs of God’s Work in the Affections of a True Believer (“Gracious Affections”)
- Gracious Affections Are the Fruit of the Holy Spirit Dwelling Permanently in the Believer
- Gracious Affections Are Founded Primarily upon the Greatness of God and His Works, Apart from Self-Interest
- Gracious Affections Are Founded upon the “Loveliness” of the Holiness of God
- Gracious Affections Arise from Divine Illumination, Not Natural Reason
- Gracious Affections Are Accompanied by the Conviction that the Gospel Is True
- Gracious Affections Are Accompanied by True Biblical Humility
- Gracious Affections Accompany a Change of Nature
- Gracious Affections Promote a Christ-like Demeanor
- Gracious Affections Soften the Heart
- Gracious Affections Have a Beautiful Symmetry and Balance
- Gracious Affections Are Not Self-Satisfied, but Desire to Love God More
- Gracious Affections Result in Christian Practice and Perseverance
If this course is taken in full, completing all reading assignments, and the student spends approximately 90 hours completing the course, the course is worth a minimum of .5 credit.