I'm currently reading Jonathan Edwards : A Life by George M. Marsden. I'm rarely interested in biographies, but if you're like me, then you should make this one exception and read this book!
The book begins by describing New England in the 1700's -- an era after the puritans but before the United States were established. The book is full of details but its far from boring. Marsden's writing is engaging. For example, he writes "George Whitefield is coming to Northampton!" and I wonder who is George Whitefield and why is he excited? So when Marsden does explain the details, I'm excited too!
After reading most of the book, I realized that this biography is also a history of the Great Awakenings in the mid-1700. After Jonathan Edwards left Yale, he became a pastor in Northampton (near Boston.) A great pentecostal revival started in his church and everyone within 200 miles of his church became a Christian (and they were all Calvinists too!) The book is immediately relevant when I wonder, how is it possible that everyone was a Charismatic Calvinist 250yrs ago? The church is dying out in America and is arguably dead in Europe. The church was so strong, the people thought that the Millennial Kingdom of peace and Christ's reign had already started! What is the Millennial Kingdom?
Many famous characters such as John Wesley, George Whitefield, Aaron Burr, Isaac Newton and Benjamin Franklyn appear throughout the biography and Jonathan Edward's theology is explained through the events of his life instead of through biblical proof texts.
I've blogged about Jonathan Edward's sermons before but his writing is as difficult to read as it is valuable to learn. George Marsden transforms the inaccessible, incomprehensible and influential works of Jonathan Edwards into the most entertaining, educating and though-provoking biography I've ever read.