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Monday, March 24, 2008

Was Jonathan Edwards a Racist?

I don't know. It's possible. I don't have the time to read more of his works. So I will have to depend on those that know his bio.

If he believed in the Curse of Ham heresy then yes......but like I said. I really don't know.

I only brought this up because someone was comparing giving an award to Farakan with praising Johnathon Edwards.

There is a division in the black protestant and maybe nonprotestant community when it comes to Johnathon Edwards. Many don't like the fact that he was a slave owner and that he refused to set his slaves free before he died. They were traded, sold, or givin to other family members when he died. Alot of us don't even know how he treated his slaves so depending on how he treated his slaves would also have an effect on how we feel about him. But the African Amercians who are Calvinists keep praising this man and the otherside don't understand why it's wrong to give Farakan an award for his civic humaniterian activities in the Chicago Urban area......yet it's right to praise a professed christian who owned slaves.

And so both sides fight back and forth about this issue.



Kevin Jackson said...

Interesting, I didn't know Edwards was a slave owner.

I did some googling on George Whitfield, and he was pro-slavery also, encouraging slavery in Georgia.

Contrast them with John Wesley. He spoke out strongly against slavery, and was part of the abolitionist movement.

3 examples do not make a trend, but very interesting nonetheless. :)

Jnorm said...

Yeah, I didn't know either until I was told. And then others confirmed it for me. But yeah, it's a big dispute in some African American communities.

You are right about George Whitfield and John Wesly.

But to be honest......there were some Calvinistic puritans of the past that were abolitionists.

William Wilberforce is one. The person who wrote "Amazing grace" is another.

I may be wrong, but I think Johnathon Edwards son was an abolitionist.

So you do have some.


Kevin Jackson said...

I don't think that Wilberforce was a Calvinist. I've read before that that he was a Wesleyan. I don't think the "predestination" issue was a priority for him though. He had bigger fish to fry. :)

Also he had close abolitionist friends that were Calvinists - Henry Thornton, and John Newton as you point out, so your point is well taken.

Jnorm said...

Thanks for correcting me about Wilberforce.

I saw the movie and saw that he was close to John Newton. So I assumed he was a calvinist like him.

Thanks for letting me know.


Kevin Jackson said...

Hey Jnorm, After our interaction I wrote a post on my blog on this topic. Here it is if you're interested. :)

Theology and the Slave Trade

M. A. Armstrong said...

I don't think slavery was a Calvinist or Arminian issue. I believe it was an issue of the heart that left many slave owners and those opposed to slavery confused. When reading Edwards' works (currently reading "Charity and Its Fruits") I find it odd that he was a slaveowner. However, the reality is that he was.

I think it's also imperative that we don't take our 21st Century cultural understanding and smash it into a 17th or 18th Century setting. I'm not taking up for slaveholding at all. But, if Edwards was truly a brother in Christ, perhaps a little grace should be shown in that perhaps he was mistaken in his views on this issue.

Either way, to parallel Calvinism and slavery together isn't fair to Calvinists worldwide, especially our Calvinist brothers and sisters who exist today.

I guess we won't truly know until we get to the other side of glory ourselves whether Jonathan Edwards was a brother of ours. However, he literary works are great resources for today's Christian, regardless of soteriological position.

Jnorm said...


You raise some fair points.


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