Edwards the Mentor by Rhys S. Bezzant
Among his many accomplishments, Jonathan Edwards was an effective mentor who trained many leaders for the church in colonial America, but his pastoral work is often overlooked. Rhys S. Bezzant investigates the background, method, theological rationale, and legacy of his mentoring ministry.
Edwards did what mentors normally do–he met with individuals to discuss ideas and grow in skills. But Bezzant shows that Edwards undertook these activities in a distinctly modern or affective key. His correspondence is written in an informal style; his understanding of friendship and conversation takes up the conventions of the great metropolitan cities of Europe. His pedagogical commitments are surprisingly progressive and his aspirations for those he mentored are bold and subversive. When he explains his mentoring practice theologically, he expounds the theme of seeing God face to face, summarized in the concept of the beatific vision, which recognizes that human beings learn through the example of friends as well as through the exposition of propositions.
In this book the practice of mentoring is presented as an exchange between authority and agency, in which the more experienced person empowers the other, whose own character and competencies are thus nurtured. More broadly, the book is a case study in cultural engagement, for Edwards deliberately takes up certain features of the modern world in his mentoring and yet resists other pressures that the Enlightenment generated. If his world witnessed the philosophical evacuation of God from the created order, then Edwards’s mentoring is designed to draw God back into an intimate connection with human experience.
About the author: Rhys Bezzant lectures in Church History at Ridley College, where he directs the Jonathan Edwards Center Australia.