Jonathan Edwards’ Early Understanding of Religious Experience. His New York Sermons, 1720-1723

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The significance of Scripture and piety had on Jonathan Edwards’ theology has often been obscured by his innovative use of secular though and reformed theology in his public writings. This study focuses on his earliest sermons and personal writings, which stand [prior to his study of Locke and use of the technical term sense of the heart. In looking at Edwards’ background, faith, and early sermons, this study presents an account of the emergence and expression of his early understanding of religious experience. True religion Edwards discovered, consists of the knowledge of God’s glory, love and grace made manifest by Jesus Christ and supernaturally imparted to the soul of mankind.


In the vast world of Edwardsean studies one rarely comes across a truly original approach to the study of the Puritan pastor that many consider America’s greatest theologian. Setina, demonstrates how Edwards’ use of Scripture in his earliest sermons as well as his personal spiritual experience and nascent theological reflections gave shape to his alter more mature thought patterns. Stetina displays’ a profound familiarity with early Edwards, as well as the nature and causes of his intellectual and spiritual growth. Those who have devoted themselves to an analysis of Edward’s most famous treatise, Religious Affections, must never again read it without taking into consideration Stetina’s research on Edwards’ own early and personal spirituals experience.
- Sam Storms Ph.D., Bridgeway Church Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Karin Stetina’s fascinating and well-researched study provides a convincing case that Jonathan Edward’s earliest sermons and writings underscore that his early spiritual experiences were foundational to his mature theology. Future Edwardsean scholarship needs to grapple with her irrefutable conclusion that Edwards was first and foremost a pastor who yearned to serve God’s glory.
- Joel R. Beeke, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids

Karin Stetina is very clear from the outset on what she intends to focus on and prove. She concentrates on Edwards’ earliest personal and pastoral writings (1720-1723), including his sermons from New York. Running through her work is the importance of Edward’s religious experience and the centrality of Scripture and the Holy Spirit.
- Dr. Kenneth Hagen, Professor Emeritus Marquette University

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