Did you know Jonathan Edwards owned slaves?
“It should be noted that Edwards was able to accomplish as much as he did in part because he bought into the viability of slavery. This is a massive stain on the reputation of a great Christian man. Though Edwards did treat his slaves well, and though he believed in and talked about the spiritual equality of all people before the Lord, he failed to adequately apply spiritual truths to his everyday life. Even so faithful a Christian and so biblically concerned believer as Edwards has his blind spots–some of them, like slavery, shameful in great measure.” — Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney, Jonathan Edwards, Lover of God
Reading this passage made me wonder what massive blind spots I have in my life that others see now or will be someday be glaringly obvious to others when I’ve died. How many ways have I failed to apply spiritual truth to my life?
I’m so grateful for both aspects of justification — forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of Christ. Not only does God see believers as “not guilty” because of Christ’s sacrifice, but he sees us as positively “righteous” because he credits Christ’s lifetime of flawless obedience to us as a gift of his grace. We need both–atonement for sin, and a positive record of righteousness–in order to stand before God.
Even Jonathan Edwards, as zealous as he was for the Lord, could not enter heaven based on his performance. If he presented all his sermons, teaching and books, all the hospitality he and his wife practiced, and all the people he helped as worthy of heaven, God would say what about the massive blind spot of slavery? What about this gaping deficiency?
But Edwards, trusted in Christ, so God viewed him not only as if he’d never sinned, but as if he’d lived Christ’s perfect life of obedience.
“To [Christ’s] righteousness is the eye of the believer ever to be directed; on that righteousness must he rest; on that righteousness must he live; on that righteousness must he die; in that righteousness must he appear before the judgment-seat; in that righteousness must he stand forever in the presence of a righteous God.” — Robert Haldane
Praise God for justification by faith!
photo by elmago_delmar