Martin, Ryan. Understanding Affections in the Theology of Jonathan Edwards: “The High Exercises of Divine Love”.T&T Clark Studies in Systematic Theology. London: T&T Clark, 2019.
Forward by Ken Minkema
This volume argues that the notion of “affections” discussed by Jonathan Edwards (and Christian theologians before him) means something very different from what contemporary English speakers now call “emotions.” and that Edwards’s notions of affections came almost entirely from traditional Christian theology in general and the Reformed tradition in particular.
Ryan J. Martin demonstrates that Christian theologians for centuries emphasized affection for God, associated affections with the will, and distinguished affections from passions; generally explaining affections and passions to be inclinations and aversions of the soul. This was Edwards’s own view, and he held it throughout his entire ministry. Martin further argues that Edwards’s view came not as a result of his reading of John Locke, or the pressures of the Great Awakening (as many Edwardsean scholars argue), but from his own biblical interpretation and theological education. By analysing patristic, medieval and post-medieval thought and the journey of Edwards’s psychology, Martin shows how, on their own terms, pre-modern Christians historically defined and described human psychology.
“[This] is an important book for two primary reasons. First, it does a fine job explaining fully a crucial area of Edwards’ thinking; second, it corrects misunderstandings that are prevalent in contemporary Christianity related to that area. What is this crucial area of Edwards’ thinking? Affections. I’ve been waiting for a stand-alone volume that addresses this issue – and the contemporary misunderstanding and misappropriation of it by some parts of the church today – and am glad to see this book in print.” ―Josh Moody, College Church, USA
““Interest in Jonathan Edwards has experienced something of a resurgence recently among Evangelicals, yet treatments of Edwards’s theology often fail to recognize his core anthropology, anachronistically equating his understanding of the category of affections with contemporary notions of “emotion.” Ryan Martin provides the most comprehensive study of Edwards’s thought on matters related to Christian affections, serving as a necessary corrective to contemporary treatments of one of America’s most respected theologians.”” ―Scott Aniol, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, USA
““Jonathan Edwards predicates his argument in Religious Affections on the distinction between affections and passions. Contemporary writers who think only in terms of emotions typically fail to grasp the significance of this distinction, consequently losing much of Edwards’s argument. Ryan Martin has done superior work in tracing the history of this distinction and teasing out its significance for Edwards. His work constitutes an important corrective to several current misconceptions.”” ―Kevin T. Bauder, Central Baptist Seminary, USA