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Title: Defending happiness : Jonathan Edwards's enduring pursuit of a reformed teleology of happiness
Author: Thomforde, James Henry
ISNI:       0000 0004 7429 5083
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines the doctrine of happiness within the Jonathan Edwards corpus and seeks to understand its function and significance as it relates to Edwards's broader theological project. A close examination of both the internal development and the Early Modern intellectual context of Edwards's thought reveals that spiritual happiness is of central importance to Edwards's 'end of creation' project. Scholars commonly assume that the burden of Edwards's teleological writings is a theocentric defense and promotion of the glory of God in the face of an increasingly anthropocentric Enlightenment. However, this study demonstrates that, notwithstanding Edwards's adherence to the Reformed tradition's high view of God's glory, the early and enduring concern of Edwards's teleological project is the proof and defense of spiritual happiness as ultimate telos from a Reformed perspective. Edwards's purpose to defend the teleological status of happiness is primarily exposed by the development of Edwards's teleology in his Miscellanies notebook and related theological treatises such as Discourse on the Trinity and End of Creation, especially as Edwards engages rival teleological visions that tend to subordinate happiness. While Edwards's teleological conviction regarding happiness is inspired by his own Puritan and Reformed heritage and his early profound religious experience, he subsequently pursues the proof and defense of his Reformed teleology of happiness in response to the increasing tendency of Reformed and non-Calvinist Enlightenment thinkers to subordinate the teleological status of happiness. During the Early Modern period, Reformed theologians frequently subordinate happiness relative to godliness, and especially the glory of God, and Enlightenment thinkers increasingly make practical virtue and usefulness toward the common good the ultimate telos of human existence at the expense of spiritual happiness, which intellectual trends Edwards engages for the sake of defending his Reformed teleology of happiness. The first stage of the development of Edwards's teleology of happiness is marked by his conversion and subsequent profound experiences of spiritual happiness, and by his efforts that follow during the early 1720s to prove happiness as ultimate telos, primarily on the basis of Edwards's doctrine of divine goodness. During the second stage of development, Edwards works to defend happiness as ultimate telos from a comprehensively biblical and Reformed perspective. Edwards spends the rest of his career developing his doctrines of God and the Trinity, the work of redemption, and the glory of God primarily for the sake of defending his Reformed teleology of happiness, which I suggest, significantly influences and shapes Edwards's theology.
Supervisor: Fergusson, David ; Hardman Moore, Susan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Jonathan Edwards ; teleological writings ; Reformed perspective ; godliness ; happiness ; telos ; doctrine of the Trinity