Jonathan Edwards delivered his sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, in Enfield Connecticut on July 8, 1741, the year following George Whitefield's preaching tour which helped inspire the "Great Awakening." Weeping and emotional conviction among Edwards’ audiences came at a time of great spiritual thirst. While very foreign to mainstream American opinion today, this extraordinary message was fashioned for a people who were very conscious of how their lifestyles affected eternal consequences. By today's popular perspective, the doctrine of predestination probably discourages conversion because of the new-age independent attitude. However, in Puritan culture, through Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God, fear might have powerfully affected people to look within them for the evidence of grace and then experience salvation.
First, Edwards' sermon is filled with graphic images of the fury of divine wrath and the horror of the unmerciful punishment of the wicked in hell. If one were to continue in their sin, according to Edwards, not only would a person be tormented in the presence of holy angels, but God’s terribleness would be magnified upon his/her life and forced to suffer through God’s wrath for all eternity (74). “Although it conveys the reek of brimstone, the sermon does not say that God will hurl man into everlasting fires--on the contrary, doom will come from God’s indifference...” (Thompson 71). Edwards had little need to justify his scare tactics and theology. His consuming obligation was to preach it; to preach it fiercely, purposely, persuasively, and firmly.
Next, an example of God’s wrath is seen through Edward’s p...
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...e wrath of God be seen as a primitive or obscene concept? Is the very notion of hell an insult? If so, it is clear that the God one worships is not a holy God: thus, He is not a God at all. If we despise the justice of God, a person is not a Christian. One stands in a position which is every bit as dangerous as the one which Edwards so graphically described. “If we hate the wrath of God, it is because we hate God Himself. We may protest vehemently against these charges but our vehemence only confirms our hostility toward God” (Sproul “God In The Hands Of Angry Sinners”). But a God of love who has no wrath is no God. One who does not love God in this present world is considered a loser, as he has lost all peace, comfort, strength, and even hope. A person’s greatest detriment in the hereafter is found in the loss of the sight of Christ and the beholding of His glories.
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