What’s in a name?
By Agnes Borland (IBHS Committee)
To some of us Jonathan Edwards is a celebrated athlete and triple jumper, to others he is a famous 18th century Puritan. If you know less about the second than the first, here are some facts:
- He was born in 1703 in Connecticut, USA
- He succeeded his grandfather Solomon Stoddard as minister in the Congregationalist Church in Northampton, Massachusetts
- He presided over two seasons of revival in the congregation at Northampton
- He was dismissed from this church because of his views on the Lord’s Supper
- He then became a pastor and missionary to North American Indians
- He was installed as President of Princeton College in February 1758 but died soon after
The focus of our attention at the October meeting of the Irish Baptist Historical Society Meeting was the fourth of these facts.
Lively debate, good conclusion
Dr David Luke, Tutor in Church History and Theology at the Irish Baptist College, outlined the background to the teaching given to the congregation in Northampton on the Lord’s Supper during the time when Solomon Stoddard was pastor. He then explained how Jonathan Edwards arrived at a different view. Over the course of this lecture, it emerged that (Stoddard) regarded the Lord’s Supper as a ‘converting ordinance’. Edwards was uncomfortable with this. He saw the Lord’s Supper as being of benefit only to believers since it was:
- A Memorial
- A Covenant Seal
- A Means of Spiritual Nourishment
- A Means of Communion
David explained each of these categories and concluded that the reason for studying Edward’s view of the Lord’s Supper was not simply to think about the historical context and the events of 1749. Rather his aim was to help Irish Baptists examine their view of the Lord’s Supper and come to a good conclusion about what we believe.
The attendance at this lecture and the Q&A session at the end indicated that those attending had a deep interest in this topic.
You can access a recording of this lecture at: https://www.irishbaptistcollege.org/resources/video/jonathan-edwards-and-the-lords-supper-by-david-luke-ibhs-october-2023-lecture/