Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God book cover
Start Your Free Trial

How does Edwards's sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" reflect Puritan religious beliefs?

Expert Answers info

David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write9,166 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Jonathan Edwards had been steeped in the Calvinist theology of the Puritans from an early age. As time went on, however, it became clear to him, as for many brought up in the same tradition, that something of the original spirit of Puritanism had been lost.

Like most denominations, Calvinism had become ossified into a system of formal observances, to which many adherents paid lip-service without feeling any kind of emotional attachment to their creed. Belief had become a matter for the head, not for the heart. What preachers such as Edwards sought to do, then, was to urge people to look inside...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 594 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

larrygates eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write1,856 answers

starTop subjects are History, Law and Politics, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


cestoler | Student

As answer number #2 is correct in stating "There is no set of Puritan beliefs..."; there was in fact one set called "calvinists" Calvinists beliefs in Edwards' opinion were very incorrect. He strictly opposes against them, and proves it within his paper. 

dtwenstrup | Student

There is no one set of Puritan beliefs, as there were many diverse groups of Puritans and thus diverse beliefs. However, as coming out of the Reformed Christianity movement, they generally followed Calvinist beliefs.

Puritans put a strong emphasis on preaching to encourage people to follow moral purity and piety. Thus they invited Jonathan Edwards to their congregation in Connecticut on July 8, 1741. He preached a sermon called “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” which reveals the general Reformed belief of ‘sola scriptura,’ meaning scripture is the only recognized source of authority. In the sermon, Edwards backs up his arguments with a great deal of scripture.

The Reformed belief in ‘salvation by faith alone’ is seen when Edwards declares that man cannot earn, purchase, or avoid hell. Man is sinful, deserving of hell, and only faith in Christ, through God’s grace, can save man.

The Puritan emphasis on demonic forces is also evident throughout the sermon, as Edwards tries to instill terror in his listeners about the horrors of hell.