While almost everyone knows of Jonathan Edwards, very few have heard of his son Jonathan Edwards Junior, although he was an influential theologian and pastor in his own right. His life began as the embers of the First Great Awakening were dying and ended as the flames of the Second Great Awakening were igniting. More importantly, he was a key player during a theologically volatile time, as Calvinism split into old Calvinist and New Divinity camps and the surge of Arminianism changed evangelicalism. Edwards was constantly in the mix of these theological debates attempting to defend his father’s New Divinity position, even as he altered it to a more legalistic stance.
Like his father, Edwards also served many years as a pastor and for a short time as a seminary president, but his legacy lies in his contributions to the changing face of the American theological landscape during the second half of the 18th century. The value of Ferm’s biography is primarily in its description of the changes, struggles and confusion of this interesting time period.