How would you describe Jonathan Edwards' views of God's relation to people in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"?

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lusie0520 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Edwards views God as the puppet master who has a grand plan for humanity.  He believes that any moment, on a whim, God may destroy us.  In “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Edwards uses images to show the reader this belief.  For example, he talks about the fact that God is holding the sinner over the fiery pit of hell, and at any moment, he might let go, and the sinner would drop into Hell.  He also describes God as terribly angry; he tells his congregation that God’s wrath has been building, and that the only thing holding back that wrath is God himself.  He says that one day, humanity will go too far and God’s wrath will spill forth like flood waters. 

Edwards’ God is a God who is angry at his people.  Edwards describes the bow of God’s wrath, pointed at the heart of the sinner.  The only thing holding back the arrow is God.  In Edwards’ world, God was an angry and wrathful God, a God who punished sins swiftly, and people believed that God was angry with them. 

At the end of his sermon, Edwards does offer the hope of God’s forgiveness and salvation; however, he ends the sermon with the warning that if they are not saved, they should start running.  As a whole, it is not a very positive God portrayed by Edwards, but it is effective.

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