A quick chat with Kyle Strobel (M.A. ’02, M.A. ’05), associate professor of spiritual theology at Biola’s Talbot School of Theology, and co-author of Jonathan Edwards: An Introduction to His Thought (Eerdmans, February 2018).
Q: You are a Jonathan Edwards scholar and have written other books about him. How were you initially drawn to studying Edwards?
A: Jonathan Edwards is one of the greatest intellects in church history, and yet he is understudied and often misunderstood. I was particularly interested in him because of how important of a figure he is to understand North American evangelicalism, and because he held together, with the theological tradition, what we have tended to divorce in our day: theology and spirituality, contemplation and action, and intellectual rigor with a focus on a life of affection.
Q: Many people know Edwards for his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” What do you wish more people would know about him?
A: I wish people knew that Edwards is generally considered the greatest theologian of beauty in the Christian tradition. Instead of seeing him as the one who preached the “Sinners” sermon, I wish people knew how rich his view of God’s love is, how he understood the nature of discernment in the Christian life, and how he was driven by the notion that God is beautiful, and that we are called to be beautiful as we partake in his beauty.
Q: What did you find most surprising as you explored Edwards’ theological thoughts?
A: Most surprising, perhaps, about Edwards as a theologian is how he weaves together traditional instincts with an incredibly creative reworking of the tradition. But many know about Edwards’ creativity. What is lesser known and appreciated is how profoundly rich his exegetical work is. Edwards is first and foremost an exegete of Scripture, and as his notebooks and sermons show, his knowledge of Scripture is vast and he wields that knowledge like few before him or since.