Just to show that I am not an Edwards-hater (though I may still have more to say about his view on the affections) I came across something today that defends him against what I would call a pernicious error.
Have any of you heard a contemporary Edwards follower say something to the effect that one way to know you are saved is that you would be willing to be damned if it be God’s sovereign will? I have been told such people are out there. Here’s the quote:
Samuel Hopkins laid even greater stress than Edwards on the theorem that virtue consists in disinterested benevolence; but he went counter to Edwards in holding that unconditional resignation to God’s decrees, or more concretely, willingness to be damned for the glory of God, was the test of true regeneration; for Edwards, though often quoted as holding this doctrine, protested against it in the strongest terms.
So apparently it’s Hopkins, not Edwards who taught that. More importantly, what do you think? Is Hopkins right? Indeed, if you read Edwards conversion narrative it seems that in his own experience, acceptance of divine sovereignty was a necessary precursor to his personal experience of saving faith. Could it be that Hopkins jump from the conversion narrative to more speculative thoughts. Not saying that I know of any connection there because I know nothing of Hopkins but I can see someone taking a logical leap from Edwards conversion experience and coming to believe that he believed that belief in a Calvinistic view of divine sovereignty is a necessary precursor or at least concomitant of true saving faith. Maybe these folks haven’t given proper weight to a more mature Edwards.
For me, I find the Hopkins view deplorable, contingent on one variable. If I believe in Jesus Christ and Him alone as the savior of sinners and my savior, then based on the word of God, I have every right to expect to go to heaven, not based on my own wish fulfillment but the promise of God. To say otherwise is to make God arbitrary and a liar.
Now, I suppose there is one more way for someone who holds the Hopkins view to argue the point. Suppose I die and go to heaven and found out I had a spurious faith, that my belief was like the belief of one of the devils? Would I be content to to be damned if God determined my faith was spurious. I suppose if God finds my faith spurious then I have no argument, but think of the consequences of this view.
But to entertain such an idea would seem to me to lead to nothing but skepticism when it comes to faith. How can anyone ever know they are saved? Now, revelation becomes an incoherent sham. The bible reveals how to be saved, the Scripture is perspicuous, or clear, it tells us the truth about how to be saved. We don’t believe in the power of our faith to save us, we believe in Christ. How can one who believes in Christ doubt His power to save. Doubt myself – sure, all the time, doubt Him – no, never!!