Jonathan Edwards’ Grandfather, Solomon Stoddard

Almost everyone has heard of Jonathan Edwards, but very few are familiar with Solomon Stoddard (1643-1729), Edwards’ grandfather. Stoddard was an influential force in New England Puritanism, often referred to as the “Pope” of the Connecticut Valley of western Massachusetts. He was a powerful preacher who saw five (possibly six) revivals during his fifty-eight-year pastorate in Northampton. Yet, he has often been marginalized because of his very unique view of the Lord’s Supper as a “converting ordinance.” I wrote a book that was just published this week exploring Stoddard’s view of Communion against the changing face of Puritanism reflected in the Half-Way Covenant. While Stoddard firmly believed in the doctrine of divine election, he also believed that God was so gracious and sovereign that no one could judge whether a person was elect or not. Consequently, he crafted an evangelical theology based upon the preaching of the gospel and viewed the Lord’s Supper as another form of preaching for the conversion of sinners.  I have dedicated this book to two congregations where the bulk of my pastoral ministry life has been spent: College Church, Northampton, MA, where I was for twenty-five years, and Community Fellowship Church, West Chicago, IL, where I am now. Though this book is an academic work that I hope will find its way to colleges and seminaries, I also hope it will be a good read for pastors and lay-folks who think deeply and enjoy Puritan history. Copies of Beyond the Half-Way Covenant can be purchased through Wipf and Stock Publishers online and in a few weeks online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Continue reading “Jonathan Edwards’ Grandfather, Solomon Stoddard”