Jonathan Edwards on beauty, desire, and the sensory world

A theological paper by Belden C. Lane

Jonathan Edwards perceived the natural world as a school of de- sire. He thought that by carefully attending to the sensory splendors (and terrors) of creation, believers learn to apprehend God’s glory, which is itself more sensory than anything we can imagine. The human task of bringing the world to a consciousness of its beauty in God is full of ecological implications. As George Marsden says in his new biography of Edwards, “The key to Edwards’ thought is that everything is related because everything is related to God.

BELDEN LANE received his Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is currently the Hotfelder Professor in the Humanities, Theological Studies, at Saint Louis University. He has recently published Landscapes of the Sacred: Geography and Narrative in American Spirituality (Johns Hopkins University, 2001) and The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality (Oxford University, 1998). He is now working on a book provisionally entitled Nature and Spirituality in the Reformed Tradition from John Calvin to Jonathan Edwards.


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