Can you imagine rejoicing in the destruction of someone’s home? Probably not. Can you imagine making a chair out of the beams so that every time you sit down you will be able to rejoice and be reminded that this person is no longer teaching and preaching their particular doctrine? Well, maybe if the doctrine was particularly heinous. In Iain Murray’s wonderful biography of Jonathan Edwards, there is a record of just such an occurrence:
When it (Edwards’ old home) was demolished to make way for a ‘modern residence’ in 1900, a local author, R. DeWitt Mallary, obtained a chair made out of its oaken beams. ‘As oft as I sit in it,’ says Mallary, ‘I congratulate the world that it has escaped the tyranny of Edwards’s theology.’
Jonathan Edwards was one of the great Christian preachers and theologians of the 1700’s. He was a key figure in one of the greatest revivals that North America has ever seen, the First Great Awakening. He is widely acclaimed as one of the United States greatest intellectuals, and one of his books, The Life of David Brainerd, inspire thousands of Christian missionaries. Yet Mallary rejoiced that Edwards was no longer preaching God’s word and fulfilling the great commission! What was that tyrannical theology that Edwards taught? The doctrines of grace. Gasp!
Now, I clearly believe in vehement debate between true Christians regarding various views that can be considered within the orthodox faith (the nature and use of the sacraments, the understanding of election, the views of the end times). But, heaven forbid that we should rejoice when God’s word and the true Gospel stops being proclaimed. As Jesus himself said, “for he who is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50).