Jonathan Edwards and Sanctification: The Pursuit of Happiness Found in Union and Obedience
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This research endeavors to answer the question of why the believer should obey, specifically considering the issues of motive and ability. The thesis of this study is that Jonathan Edwards provides the critical missing element of happiness in the sanctification debates of today, an element that is crucial for the doctrine of sanctification because it points to the One in whom true happiness is found and who is the believer’s good. This argument puts the focus on relationship and underlines the importance of union, all the while keeping the necessary tension of God’s work and man’s responsibility in obedience where Scripture places it. Edwards is a needed voice amid the questions that are raised concerning this essential doctrine today. Edwards shows that the affections and happiness do matter. This happiness comes through union, which not only connects the believer to the source of happiness, which is the Triune God but also enables a Christian to pursue it. Chapter 1 introduces the topic of study, setting the framework of what this research intends to do. Chapter 2 establishes the context of the sanctification debates today and the need in also showing how this context is bridged with Edwards own time. Chapter 3 provides the foundation of Edwards’s theology of sanctification with the Trinity, observing the ground of holiness, happiness, and grace. Chapter 4 gives the context of sanctification and how it fits into Edwards’s theology of the Christian life in a holistic redemption, showing both the objective and subjective work of Word and Spirit. Chapter 5 picks up the heart of the argument in looking at three major undercurrents in the Christian life as observed by Edwards, with the chapter answering the question of why the believer should obey. Chapter 6 explores the means to happiness, by examining the principle means of grace developed by Edwards all of which revolve around the truth of God’s Word as used by the Holy Spirit. Chapter 7 the research provides a biblical and theological evaluation of Edwards’s arguments as discussed in this dissertation, giving a defense of happiness as an answer to obedience. Chapter 8, the conclusion, presents the application of this research to the debates today as well as providing the theological legacy of Jonathan Edwards on the doctrine of sanctification.