In celebration of our new publication, “A Collection of Essays on Jonathan Edwards” (JESociety Press, 2017) EdwardsStudies.com will be doing some short profile interviews with our article contributors. Today, we chat with J.T. Holderman.
Tell us a little bit about what you are doing right now? (career, ministry etc.)
Since you asked, life is all manner of exciting these days. For starters my wife Kim and I just welcomed our second baby girl to the family, Corinne Hope. I forgot how much I love sleep. This past July my Senior Pastor retired and I have been called into that position and am striving daily to be faithful in loving the people of Bellevue Presbyterian Church here in Gap, PA. The transition from Associate Pastor to Senior Pastor has been eye-opening and I’m realizing daily the weight of the calling to the pastorate. Life is all manner of exciting.
I first became interested in Jonathan Edwards while studying at Princeton Theological Seminary. It was there that I picked up a book by John Piper titled God’s Passion for His Glory. Within this 250 page book is a biographical narrative of Edwards and a copy of his The End For Which God Created the World. As I read Piper’s detailed account of Edward’s and his indebtedness to the man, I found similar chords of interest in my own heart towards Edwards. After reading Edward’s The End For Which God Created the World I found myself shocked and stunned at first the intellect and brilliance of Edwards to pinpoint the reason for God’s creation, that He might be glorified, and second at the weight of the man’s logic to turn the human heart toward the Lord.
As I read the biography Piper supplied, I realized quickly that Edwards ended his earthly life in the same town in which I was studying, Princeton, NJ. More than that he was buried in a nearby cemetery. One afternoon, with coffee in hand from the local Small World Coffee, I made a pilgrimage to the grave, where there I worshiped the Lord in thankfulness for the man Jonathan Edwards.
What are some of your favorite works of JE?
Perhaps my favorite work of Edwards are his sermons. At least through the written medium his soul thirsty work for preaching the glory of God is a balm to me in every season of life. I would recommend as a starting place The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader edited by Wilson H. Kimnach and co. Second to his sermons, I would be remiss if I did not highlight The Religious Affections, a marvel of human intellect and logic.
Give us a tidbit from your essay! What is your article about?
In my chapter in the collection of essays, I highlight in brief a biography of Edwards and certain implications we should glean from his life. Here’s an excerpt:
To many, the Christian faith looks like a joyless prison. It is a religion of prohibition: you can’t get drunk, you can’t sleep around, you can’t lie on your taxes. Many in the world see Christianity as a set of rules that restrict the individual and take all “fun” out of life. Edwards, however, would encourage us that it’s exactly the opposite for the Christian. He roots the fundamental core of Christianity in relation to an individual’s happiness, freedom, and joy, not in a prison of constraint and obedience. Christianity does not kill delight; it, instead, magnifies it and puts it in its proper place. Edwards says it this way:
“God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it.”
 Quoted in John Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 1998), 79.