During his final years in Northampton, Massachusetts, Jonathan Edwards received an invitation from Scotland to participate in a Concert of Prayer as a “means” of rejuvenating the revivals.
Edwards had already come to think of prayer as an appropriate conduit for advancing the awakenings and in response he published in 1748, sermons on Zechariah 8:20-22 entitled An Humble Attempt.
In the 1740s and 1750s, Edwards’s work encouraged many both in America and Scotland, “by united and extraordinary prayer, seek to God that he would come and manifest himself, and grant the tokens and fruits of his gracious presence.”
This optimistic treatise, while not evident in Edwards’s lifetime, helped to launch the modern missions movement. In 1784, William Carey and Andrew Fuller received An Humble Attempt and read it with eyes primed for the task of taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. In this sense, Jonathan Edwards served as a “grandfather” of modern missions.
At Midwestern Seminary this Spring, Owen Strachan, Thomas Kidd and I will offer The Modern Era PhD Seminar. The seminar starts February 22 and will meet for a week-long sessions during April 19-23.
For the students already enrolled we recently made the syllabus available and we wanted also to make it available here as well so any other interested students can view it and see if they would like to enroll as well prior to the start of the seminar on February 22.
We’ve offered this seminar several times at Midwestern and typically attempt to cover the entire Modern Era (c. 1700-2000) in broad strokes with focused primary source readings from the major figures.
However, this time, given the expertise of Drs. Strachan and Kidd we are structuring this offering of the Modern Era Seminar to focus deeply on The First Great Awakening and Jonathan Edwards!
We will still give time and discussion to the Modern Era movements more broadly at points, but we’ve decided to give this dedicated focus to allow PhD students the opportunity to read a substantial amount of primary sources and grow in their knowledge of the Modern Era as a result.
To put it another way, this fall we will follow Jonathan Edwards and gather together to read and discuss the Modern Era and marvel at the kindness of God in His answers to extraordinary prayer.
In addition, here is a brief Welcome Video the seminar Dr. Strachan and I recorded to help give an overview of our planned course of study:
If you are a PhD student or considering starting your PhD studies, we’d love to have you join us. You can learn more about the Midwestern PhD program here.