Jonathan Edwards:

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Presentations text content in Jonathan Edwards:

Slide1

Jonathan Edwards: The Beauty of Work

A Colonial American argument for social responsibility in the workplace

Slide2

Why I’m interested in Edwards

I’m a

“blue-blooded Boston Brahman”.

I’m a Christian ethicist and theologian.

I’m the director of the Jonathan Edwards Center – Poland.

Slide3

Why you are interested, intrigued or infuriated by Edwards.

Y

ou teach or study American

literature, culture, history and/or

(business) ethics.

You are forced to read/teach “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”.

Slide4

Why we love/hate Edwards

He’s a Calvinist. How do you like someone who believes God creates people just to send most of them to hell?

He appeals to idealistic philosophy, metaphysics, and the Bible.

He uses big

words and archaic grammar.

Slide5

Crossing Borders: Why we struggle to understand Edwards

The

“Sinners” sermon

is a rhetorical

masterpiece – but it is set

in a cultural,

intellectual, religious

climate far removed from readers today.

Slide6

Beyond Words – Crossing Borders

For Edwards, ‘doctrinal

statements’

function as grammatical

rules implicit in discourse

.

Doctrine is foundational

for

the ethical, philosophical, theological

structures

that draw

upon it.

Theology is an

“ad hoc performance … a tool in Christian communal self-description [which requires

us to constantly restate doctrine] in

the light of cultural and conceptual change.

Slide7

A paradigm shift in ethics

A shift from

universalist accounts toward

particularist

accounts ‘that proceed from within a specific historical and theological context.”

This allows us to compare particular systems and authors.

Slide8

The Edwards I Never Knew

Slide9

The Edwards I Never Knew

Slide10

Slide11

Approaching Edwards

A study of Edwards

thought

,

and his

influence on subsequent generations,

provides

insight into American culture, thought and literature

.

Cf.

Stievermann

:

“Studying the History of American Protestantism through Jonathan Edwards: Versions of ‘America’s Theologian’ at Mid-Century”

.

Slide12

Approaching Edwards

I will present an

approach to Edwards that makes

appeals to

a wide group of readers today.

Plus an

application to business ethics.

Slide13

God’s Sovereignty and Human Free Will?

For Edwards free will is not an instrument for moral struggle and victorious achievement, but a capacity for friendship and mystic communion.

Slide14

Edwards’ Ethics: Three main ideas

Beauty is the key to understanding God as well as the

nature and dynamics of

(the spiritual)

and moral life.

The creation

of the world

was/is the joyful

overflowing

of

the fullness of being and beauty in the divine life.

The

Christian

(religious, human, ethical) life is renewed by participating

in the

divine life.

Slide15

The Heart of Edwards’ Ethical Systems = Beauty

Edwards’ ethics is not fueled by the fires of hell but enlightened by the the beauty

of

God.

Slide16

Beauty is relational

Beauty is “consent to being”.

Primary (spiritual) beauty is warm, heart-felt consent to being in general.

Secondary (natural) beauty is symmetry, proportion, harmony.

Slide17

Divine Life is Relational

Trinity: mutual relationship of love

.

God’s idea of himself is perfect – this is God the Son. The Holy Spirit is the result of mutual love between the Father and Son.

Slide18

Hell? Yes! But erotic love?

“In Edward’s Trinitarian writings there is a strong theme that accords with the emphasis in contemporary feminist ethics on the positive role of erotic love and intimacy.”

William Danaher

Slide19

Beauty is love

Love is relationship.

Love is the sum and root of all virtues, moral attitudes and actions.

Slide20

Divine Life is Active

Beauty is active not passive.

It is not being beautiful but “beautifying”.

God’s essential virtues are knowledge, love and joy.

Slide21

Divine Life is Relational

The Father is the principle of happiness, the Son the principle of knowledge and understanding, and the Spirit the principle of love. Hence…the Father has love because the Holy Spirit dwells in him; the Father understanding because the Son dwells in Him, and so on.

Slide22

Creation: Divine Life Overflowing

God’s joy could not be contained, it overflowed and the world was created as an extension of the beauty and life of God.

For God love is a disposition, a habit, a life-style.

Edwards was a

panentheist

!

Slide23

Creation: God enlarges himself

God gives himself to others, creates them to love and be loved.

Human beings are

created in God’s image, to

love, to seek relationships, to bless and

to beautify.

Slide24

The Image of God

Humans beings created in the image of God are also active (dynamic), relational, creative beings.

Personalism

: Ethics arises from the encounter with another person.

Slide25

Loving God and the World

The proper response to God’s love is to welcome it and delight in it, as well as in the world’s “being” and well-being.

Loving the world is to participate in God’s beautifying presence and activity in the world.

Slide26

Participation in the Divine Life

Our lives are transformed by perceiving beauty, by reverence for the presence and power of (divine, religious, ethical, human) life.

This awakens a desire to participate in that life, to participate in its beautifying activity.

Slide27

Edwards and John Lennon?“Imagine all the people …”

Ethical Imagination

Imagining the world as a better place is the first, essential step to making it a better place.

Slide28

Colonial America: 1st half 18th Century

Puritan villages become urban commercial centers.

Community orientation fragmented by individualism and self-interest.

Scarcity of land and capital.

Local markets become regional, international.

Development of business and free market.

Free trade of ideas: enlightenment favored reason, evangelical pietism emotions (religion of the heart).

Slide29

Edwards vis-à-vis changes

Rejected sexual double standard.

Criticized political quarrels.

Sympathized with elite but critical of their tendency to abuse power.

Critical of aggressive business practices.

Wealth should be used for public good.

Avoid cheating, gambling, speculation, indebtedness.

Free market regulated by self-interest not public good.

Slide30

Three Questions

Communitarianism versus liberalism?

Morality in business? Social responsibility in the marketplace?

C

ommon (ethical) ground between Christians, humanists, agnostics, followers of other religions?

Slide31

Communitarianism vs. Liberalism

Liberalism: John Locke, Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Stuart Mill, John Rawls

Communitarianism: Charles Taylor, Michael

Sandel

, Alasdair

MacIntyre

, Michael

Walzer

,

Amitai

Etzioni

Slide32

Core commitments of liberalism

Constitutionalism: rule of law

Individual human rights

Special priority of individual rights with respect to the common good

Slide33

Libertarians versus Liberals

L

ibertarians (“classic liberals”) argue

for a robust set of property rights that rules out government redistribution and requires a

laissez-faire

capitalist

economy

.

(Egalitarian) liberals argue

that some redistribution is necessary to preserve equality of opportunity and to prevent or ameliorate poverty.

Slide34

Communitarianism

The

liberal

tradition puts too much emphasis

on individual liberty

and

too little

on

community

.

Community is a crisscrossing network of relationships between a group of individuals who share a common set of values, norms.

Carrot and stick approach.

Slide35

Communitarianism and Justice

C

ommunity

should replace justice; remedial

justice is

needed

when community

is absent.

Principles

of

justice are based on the community’s shared understandings; there is no

ahistorical, transcultural source of norms of justice.

C

ommunity plays

a greater role in principles of justice

—there

should be more focus on common good, less on individual rights.

Slide36

Communitarianism vs. Liberalism

Communitarians accept liberalism’s core commitments of constitutionalism and individual human rights.

Communitarians argue for a communitarian form of liberalism, with a less expansive interpretation of basic human rights.

Slide37

Edwards vis-à-vis Communitarianism and Liberalism

A highly communitarian form of classical liberalism, drawn from his vision of the beauty of God.

Driven by his theology, by his vision of God’s beauty, but open to other religious, ethical, humanist traditions.

Slide38

Edwards & Business Ethics: 2 views

He was not interested in economics; took the side of Puritan morality versus incipient capitalism.

He was an implicit populist and

protocapitalist

.

Slide39

Mark Valeri: Edwards & Business Ethics: 3 phases

Idealistic: Puritan ideals for economic practice.

Pragmatic:

p

ractical economic reform, focus on church not society.

Sceptical

:

looked to external controls of the market.

Slide40

Phase 1: Virtue leads to wealth, but wealth corrupts

A

prosperous society was a godly

society.

A

godly society was a cohesive

society.

In

a cohesive society individuals sacrificed private interest for the public

good.

Therefore

, a wise people relinquished their private interests for the common

good.

Slide41

Puritan paradox

Goodness makes you wealthy.

Wealth leads to depravity.

Slide42

Phase 2: The visible church as a reforming society

He believed spiritual regeneration brings social reformation.

Revivals would spark

social benevolence.

Northampton's

elite

should model

justice in their economic dealings

.

Slide43

Phase 2: Shades of Max Weber

T

he

rich

should act

industriously for the benefit of

society.

Sloth is

a disgrace to one's calling.

God prospers

those

who

are of a liberal, charitable, bountiful

spirit.

Slide44

Phase 2: Max Weber, but …

W

ealth belongs

ultimately to the

community

… individuals are stewards

of the common

wealth.

Benevolence

is

most effective

when

channeled

through

the church

.

Slide45

Phase 3: Economic Crisis  market controls

C

risis: inflation, depreciation, trade imbalance, budget (gov’t) deficits

, poor investments,

private debt.

Edwards

despaired

of a Christian economic

system, and proposed specific rules of economic policy.

Slide46

Phase 3: Distrust of human nature  distrust of the market.

Edwards did not trust the hidden hand of the market.

His resistance to a market economy followed from his suspicion of private enterprise, which in turn resulted from his view of human nature as fallen and sinful.

Slide47

Phase 3: A morally enlightened elite can regulate the market.

Edwards was shocked by a vision of society where trade was more powerful than providence, goods more valued than grace.

He held to a traditional moral economy, and reserved the preacher’s right to provide moral guidance.

Slide48

Johan Serré: “Buying and Selling”: Edwards and the Free Market

Edwards

understood the most

important threats to

a

free market

economy

(1) monopoly, (2) information asymmetry, (3) externalities.

Edwards expressed

insights into the ‘law of supply and demand’ and understood that “buying and selling” (if regulated) could benefit society.

Slide49

Edwards and the Free Market

Edwards differed most from free

market

theorists

in his views of society:

Society is an organic whole, a ‘body’, and not an aggregate of individuals.

It

does matter what people’s ‘preferences’ are

and what

choices they make.

And it’s best if the teaching of Reformed pastors shape their preferences and guide their choices.

Slide50

Edwards and the Free Market

To Edwards,

“buying and selling” was an “exercise of society” qualified as an “improvement of society

– though in need of regulation.

Human beings are

sinful, fallen

creatures. Hence the pursuit of natural self-interest is a dangerous thing, and should be subordinated to true virtue.

Slide51

Edwards and the Free Market

The degree to which Edwards (

mis

)understood the free market does not devaluate his moral judgments.

Rather his [

particularist

] ethics provides us with a a framework to judge the moral value of our current economic system.

Slide52

Mark Valeri – Response to Edwards and the Free Market

What this essay

misses is

the historical context for Edwards’s sermon.

The economic

thought coming from London was a late-stage

mercantilism

T

he

debate concerned

government

support for native industries

(high

tariffs, low internal taxes

,)

and encouragement of foreign trade (low tariffs, higher internal

taxes)

.

Also interest rates on credit, currency emission.

Slide53

Mark Valeri – Response to Edwards and the Free Market

T

he

mid-eighteenth century context--the regnant economic ideology or the meaning of terms such as extortion or monopoly-- compels us to pause before we

assume

that Edwards really knew what a

Smithian

free market was. Nonetheless, this

essay

works well in thinking from Edwards forward rather than locking him into a pre-modern past economic ideology.

Slide54

Caleb Henry: Jonathan Edwards on Property Rights

The Trinitarian God creates a world that reflect his perfection.

C

reation

reflects the divine nature by

living

in relational community.

This relational love of God,

given to and received by individuals, allows them

to love all created reality.

Slide55

Caleb Henry: Jonathan Edwards on Property Rights

Humans

are

relational beings

,

created in God’s image, to love and be loved, to enjoy beauty and participate in making the world more beautiful.

Slide56

Jonathan Edwards on Property Rights

Moral agents are social agents; affairs of morality are affairs of society.

Citizens must know the rules if they are to obey them. [Conversation, dialogue]

Nature points to rights, but requires a government to put them into effect.

Slide57

JE: Individual Rights and Social Constraints

Edwards always discusses individuals within societal constraints.

“The end

of men’s uniting in a community is strength and firmness. This is the foundation on which we stand and on which our particular rights and privileges are

built.

Slide58

JE on Property Rights and the Government

Civil government has three main functions:

Protecting property rights

Maintaining order

Establishing justice

Slide59

Jonathan Edwards on Property Rights

Edwards

described

justice in economic terms.

The

rich should not oppress the

poor.

T

he

poor should not seek to defraud the rich.

Slide60

Caleb Henry: JE: Self-Love and Property Rights

Simple self-love: the love for oneself, one’s own good.

Compounded self-love: the delight one has in the good of others; this is rooted in a law of nature.

Both are good and needed. ‘The good of society requires justice.” But man’s self-interest can also undermine society.

Slide61

Jonathan Edwards on Property Rights and the Community

A man should enjoy

the

fruit of his labor and the benefit of his property.

But the

right

to property

never goes

against the community.

Slide62

JE: Social Responsibility in the Marketplace

Scarcity

should determine

prices: it is

God’s providential activity upon the whole society.

Merchants

should never use inflation to take advantage of the customer.

Edwards seeks to ensure

societal

stability

because

economic instability

undermines

of individual rights.

Slide63

JE: Social Responsibility in the Marketplace

Charity is vitally connected to property rights. With societal privileges comes societal duties.

“God has commanded charity through revelation, but also through natural reason.”

Slide64

JE: Equal rights, unequal results

T

here

is no equality in the comparative value of individual labor, the inheritance or position given by one’s family, or the risk and correlated reward individuals were willing to face. Therefore, equal rights would, and should, lead to providentially controlled unequal results.

Slide65

Edwards late 1740’s sermon on Ezekiel 22:12

Natural property rights flow from one’s instinctive desire to work toward goals.

But those rights

can never be isolated from natural law. Given man’s dynamic but fallen nature, there will always be tension between individual rights and the goal of the society.

Slide66

Property rights and labor

Property rights result from individual labor. Natural law requires a return for labor. Contracts guide labor (a form of compound love, hence of true virtue).

When property rights become the end instead of a means, society is undermined. Self-interest must also seek the common good.

Slide67

Property Rights and Providence

Natural property rights will lead to varying distribution of wealth among the populace, but the providence that distributes monetary and societal privileges also gives duties.

By

explicitly connecting natural law and property rights, Edwards believes he has ensured societal stability.

Slide68

Caleb Henry: Jonathan Edwards on Property Rights

Edwards adapted Locke’s natural law arguments to construct a

theory

of individual property rights within an ordered society.

Providence

helps resolve

the tension between the communal demands of natural law and the individual’s self-interested natural right to property.

Slide69

Edwards and Work Ethics

Anachronistic?

Work ethics or work ethos?

Trinitarian theology and work ethics?

Relevance for agnostics, followers of other religions /no religion at all?

Slide70

Edwards vis-à-vis Communitarianism and Liberalism

A highly communitarian form of classical liberalism, drawn from his vision of the beauty of God.

Driven by his theology, by his vision of God’s beauty, but open to other religious, ethical, humanist traditions.

Slide71

Common Ground: Edwards for the religious, agnostics, and humanists.

Edwards’ ethics is implicitly Christian.

H

is insights can be restated as religious ethics.

Or as humanistic ethics.

“Borrowed transcendence”.

Slide72

4 Common forms of consciousness

Aesthetic perception.

Conscience.

Natural pity.

Religious knowledge (via conscience).

This gives Christians and non-Christians a foundation to work together.

Slide73

Edwards and Ethical Systems

Rules: deontological ethics

Results: teleological ethics

Virtue ethics

Slide74

Morality in Business:Edwards’ Aesthetic Ethics

An alternative to rule-based and utilitarian ethical systems.

Grounded in recognition of beauty and reverence for being.

Dynamic not passive.

Inclusive, not exclusive.

Engaged, interdependent not individualistic.

Slide75

Social Responsibility in the Workplace

Be active, not passive.

Be present for others, seeking relationship, meeting needs.

Seek the public (not private) good.

Imagine and work for a better world (beauty, peace, justice).

Slide76

Beauty is essential to well-being

Can

you imagine virtue and love as forms of beauty rather than as forms of goodness?

Edwards helps us reclaim the innate and essential relation between aesthetics and ethics.

Slide77

Homeward Toward Beauty

Home is where we are right now.

Home is a different way of being present, of appreciating the beauty we are given and experience, of enhancing the beauty of everything we touch.

Slide78

Homeward Toward Beauty

This is a journey of discovery.

This is a social not individual journey.

This is a journey towards greater beauty, peace, justice among people, between people and all being (animals, nature).

Slide79

Homeward Toward Beauty

“Our deepest religious responsibility is to love creation and hallow it – in order that it may be changed.”

H

. Richard Niebuhr

Slide80

Christian love and virtue

Christian love moves believers to meet the needs of all, not just fellow believers.

Christian love drives Christian to active involvement in civil community.

Love is active, will always result in practice.

God is present in your neighbor, especially the poor. Love cares for bodies as well as souls.

Slide81

Religious Ethics Today

God’s love and joy and beauty are flowing into the world.

God is present and available, not distantly and demanding.

We are drawn toward beauty and invited to participate in beautifying the world.

Slide82

To savor or save the world?

Every morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and an inclination to savor it. This makes it hard to plan the day. But if we forget to savor the world, what possible reason do we have for saving it? In a way, the savoring must come first.”

E.B

.

White

Slide83

Love and Beauty

Apostle Paul

:

“Faith

, hope and love, but the greatest of

these is

love

.”

Edwards: “Goodness, truth and beauty, but the greatest of these is beauty.”

Slide84

j.burnell@ewst.edu.plwww.ewst.edu.pl

Jonathan

Edwards Center – Poland

Ewangelical

School of

Theology in

Wrocław

Theologica

Wratislaviensia:

www.theologica.ewst.pl

Vol. 7, 2012 Jonathan

Edwards

Jonathan Edwards Reader

: Polish edition

Sept.

2014

Library resources at EWST: Jonathan Edwards Collection; materials on history of American culture, religion, literature; best English language library in Poland for biblical and theological studies.


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