Friday, August 7, 2009

The Infinite Merit of Christ: Introduction

(For Edwards, says Biehl, it's God as the Trinity, Adam and then Christ.)

Studies of Edwards and his theology and philosophy have been growing exponentially "nonetheless, the history of Edwards' scholarship exhibits a relative dearth of interest in the person and redemptive work of Christ as Mediator, despite the critical and central importance of the same in the overall thought and ministry of Edwards." (Infinite Merit, Biehl, 2) There are also incorrect portrayals of Edwards to overcome such as Perry Miller's study from the 1940's that paints Edwards as primarily a philosopher and secondarily a theologian and then somewhat unfortunately as a narrow minded Calvinist. Fortunately and more importantly; "A Trinitarian theocentrism is increasingly being viewed as the unifying ground of Edwards thought." (Infinite Merit, Biehl, 14)

Biehl argues that Edwards saw in Christ's redemptive work, the glory of the Trinity, (Infinite Merit, Biehl, 19-20) which is a great starting point and sentiment. Edwards described the doctrine of justification in words that echo Luther, as "the highest glory of the gospel and the delight of the Scriptures is this very doctrine of justification through the righteousness of Christ obtained by faith." (Infinite Merit, Biehl, 21) Biehl then writes "For Edwards, the doctrine of justification by grace is founded upon the absolute necessity of perfect conformity to God's unchanging rule of righteousness for the attaining of eternal life." (Infinite Merit, Biehl, 22) Only in Christ can God be perfectly obeyed. Biehl says he'll go on to show the Trinitarian foundations followed by the necessity of Adam's obedience and then the necessity of Christ's obedience due to Adam's sinful failure. Later Biehl will describe the nature of Christ's obedience. Hopefully at that point we'll be able to shed some light on Wright's accusation of a "treasury of merit."