After reading Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards, how does Jonathan Edwards’ view of proper human society differ from our own today?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One distinct way in which Edwards' view of proper human society differs from our own today rests in the view of the divine.  For Edwards, proper human society is only possible when individuals are focused on the divine and the role that God plays in one's life.  Edwards believes that individuals have moved past this in their embrace of commercial and other secular notions of the good:

By the meer pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hinder’d by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God’s mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment.

For Edwards, the "meer pleasure of God" can only be possible when individuals live their lives with the presence of the divine actively guiding their being.  This is different from our own society today as we embrace different paths individuals take.  One such path might be spiritual, but we are also tolerant of individuals who embrace agnosticism and/ or atheism.  In a secularized society, we are able to define "goodness" as one that can exist outside the religious realm, something that Edwards could never embrace in the vision of proper human society that he advocates.

Read the study guide:
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

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