The Jonathan Edwards Center at Gateway Seminary hosted its inaugural conference Jan. 15-16 at the Ontario, Calif., campus.
A panel of scholars discusses the vision for the new Jonathan Edwards Center at Gateway Seminary, from left, Adriaan Neele, director of the JEC South Africa; Mark Rogers, pastor of Fellowship in the Pass Church in Beaumont, Calif.; Robert Caldwell, associate professor of church history at Southwestern Seminary; Ken Minkema, executive director of JEC at Yale University; and Oliver Crisp, professor of systematic theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. Rogers, Caldwell, Minkema and Crisp serve on Gateway Seminary's JEC advisory board.
The conference theme was “Regeneration, Revival and Creation: Religious Experience and the Purposes of God in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards.”
The gathering included a dinner and panel discussion on Jan. 15 and three plenary sessions and 10 breakout session options on Jan. 16.
Topics and speakers for the three plenary sessions were:
– “The Most Important Thing in the World: Jonathan Edwards on Rebirth and Its Implications for Christian Life and Thought,” presented by Douglas Sweeney, distinguished professor of church history and the history of Christian thought and director of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School’s Jonathan Edwards Center.
– “The Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom in the World: Jonathan Edwards and the Concert of Prayer for Revival: Origins and Legacy,” presented by Michael Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality and director of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.
– “Jonathan Edwards on Creation and Divine Ideas,” presented by Oliver Crisp, professor of systematic theology at Fuller Theological Seminary and a professorial fellow at the University of St. Andrews’ Institute for Analytic and Exegetical Theology.
Gateway announced its affiliation with Yale University in October 2017 to create its Jonathan Edwards Center (JEC) because of increased interest from scholars on the West Coast. Located in the seminary’s library, it is one of 10 globally – with three in the U.S. – to offer resources for Edwardsean study. Chris Chun, Gateway’s chair of history and theological studies and associate professor of church history, serves as director of the seminary’s JEC.
Chun noted that each center has its own emphasis, with the focus of the JEC at Gateway – since it is a Baptist institution – on Jonathan Edwards and Baptist tradition.
“I have a number of Ph.D. students working with me on Edwards and Edwardsean Baptists such as Andrew Fuller, William Carey, Charles Spurgeon and Adoniram and Ann Judson,” Chun said. “But our goal is not to serve just Baptists but to serve scholars on the West Coast in general in this important area of study.”
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was a pastor, revivalist, Christian philosopher, missionary and president of what is now Princeton University. Widely regarded as one of America’s greatest theologians, he is the subject of scholarly interest because of his effect on the country’s religious, political and intellectual landscapes.
“I view the Edwards study efforts as a fellowship,” said Ken Minkema, executive director of JEC at Yale University. “It is a concerted effort. It is very much an assortment and a collection of people passionate about Edwards and related topics about his legacy.”
Chun said he believes Gateway’s JEC will benefit the seminary in general, explaining, “We hope to strengthen our doctoral program as well as our visiting scholar program through networking with this community.”
The conference marked the official opening of the JEC on Gateway’s campus. John Shouse, professor of Christian theology, donated much of its furnishings and was honored during a brief ceremony. An acrylic painting of Edwards by Oliver Crisp, commissioned by the JEC at Gateway, was unveiled, which Shouse said is the showpiece of the room.
Essays from conference presentations will be collected and published in a book co-edited by Chun and Kyle Strobel, associate professor of spiritual theology at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. The painting of Edwards will be pictured on the cover.