In "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" by Jonathan Edwards, is the author asking or telling the audience?

Expert Answers
thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" by Jonathan Edwards is a sermon delivered to a congregation in Enfield, Connecticut on July 8, 1741. The sermon was composed in the context of the Great Awakening, a strongly Calvinist religious revival that occurred in mid-eighteenth century United States, and was concerned with the growth of more moderate forms of Christianity, especially Latitudinarianism and deism.

In the wake of the religious wars and upheavals of the seventeenth century, many Christians felt that rather than be divided over minute points of dogma, Christians should emphasize the reasonable and moral aspects of Christianity, avoiding the "enthusiasm" and religious zeal which had led to the horrors of religious wars. Edwards, Whitfield, and other preachers of the Great Awakening, however, saw this form of moderate rationale belief as a slippery slope leading to religious indifference or atheism.

Edwards' sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", is intended to terrify the audience into abandoning their complacency and returning to a passionate and zealous faith, based, among other things, on being terrified of the horrors of eternal damnation. Edwards does not ask his audience anything, but tells them what to believe and how to believe. The sermon is dogmatic rather than dialogic and harangues its hearers with great power and confidence. Rather than exploring alternative readings of the Bible or religious traditions, Edwards in this sermon takes the substance of his beliefs for granted, and uses them as a foundation to exhort the readers to an intense emotional commitment to their religious faith. 

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

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question