Scottish Journal of Theology

Research Article

Jonathan Edwards's Freedom of the Will and his defence of the impeccability of Jesus Christ

Philip J Fiska1

a1 ReachGlobal, 901 East 78th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55420, USA


It is in Jonathan Edwards's Freedom of the Will (1754) that he reconciles impeccability and freedom of the will in the human soul of Jesus Christ, even when Jesus is in a state of trial. But how does he shape a synthesis between these two attributes without duplicity, and at the same time avoid theological and christological barbs, whether Arminian or Hobbist, Nestorian or Apollinist? For Edwards, the Son of God did not surrender impeccability when he undertook to fulfil – in human nature, and in a state of trial – intra-trinitarian promises, promises made not only by the Father to the Son, but by the Son to the Father. Edwards views the habits of the heart of Jesus Christ progressing in holiness from the moment of his incarnation. He understands the excellencies that the Son of God brought to the human nature in the incarnation in no way to have added to nor to have diminished the impeccable holy disposition of his person. A key to interpreting the holy habits of Jesus’ heart is, according to Edwards, to view the source of the impeccability of the soul of Jesus as lying in its essence, not in a cause outside his person; it lies in the very disposition of his heart.


I would like to thank Douglas A. Sweeney for reading first drafts of this article and offering many helpful suggestions.