Nearly three centuries ago the revivalist Jonathan Edwards produced his famous sermon ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.’ It was hugely influential and shaped much of American and Western theology with a vision of God as violent, angry and retributive.
As many of you will know we have recently been drawn to the writings of Brian Zahnd. In the last year we have highly recommended ‘Beauty Will Save the World.’ Zahnd is founding pastor of the Word of Life Church and a theologian we greatly enjoy. Whilst on holiday this summer we were captured once again by another of his contributions – Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God. It is a book where we discover how Zahnd was captured in his early years by Jonathan Edwards famous 1741 sermon and then spent many years haunted by a vision of a wrathful God.
In this book he explores how over the years he began “to question the theology of a wrathful God who delights in punishing sinners.” He explores the real nature of Jesus and His Father as well as exploring profound insights into God’s love and His eternal plan for humanity. He doesn’t run away from wrestling with subjects like Old Testament genocide, the crucifixion of Jesus, the punishment of hell and the final judgement in Revelation.
The book is an interesting look at the context of some modern theological ideas, but what we love about it most of all is the way in which it offers profound insight into God’s love and eternal plan. We love the way that it places Jesus as the central figure in salvation as well as the way it understands the Book of Revelation. We love his emphasis on scripture and that all scripture must be read through the lens of a loving God who died on the Cross, as well as the way that he maintains that the summit of divine revelation for sinners is not God’s wrath but God’s love.