The Religious Affections Summary: Introduction & Pre-Read


Lord’s Library editors compiled this brief that offers a short summary of The Religious Affections, a Christian classic by Jonathan Edwards.

The Christian classic The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards grapples with how one can discern authentic spiritual affections from mere emotionalism or counterfeit religious experiences. Edwards emphasizes the centrality of the heart in matters of faith. He argues that genuine religious affections arise from a transformed heart touched by the Holy Spirit. It’s a recommended read by our editors.

Edwards also distinguishes between superficial religious emotions and true spiritual affections. He contends that true religious affections are marked by their alignment with the glory of God and a genuine love for Christ. Edwards addresses the role of emotions in religion, asserting that emotions can be a valid and important part of one’s religious experience but should be subservient to a heart transformed by God’s grace.

This aligns with the simple fact that salvation is not merely a matter of outward conformity or religious ritual but a root transformation of the spirit by God’s grace within the innermost being of the believer, by faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The book continues to be a valuable resource for discerning the authenticity of one’s faith and religious experiences.

Those looking for information on this work commonly query Google for The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards PDF (linked courtesy of, while others are searching for the title available on audiobook through Amazon.

Whatever the case, we made sure to link the best options in this space, and we hope you can take what we’ve written above, and what we outline below, to provide a worthwhile review for your friends, family, or next ministry project.

The Gospel

The Religious Affections Summary

The Religious Affections Summary: Points to Know Before Reading

The Work Was Written in 1746 Colonial America

The Religious Affections was written during the Great Awakening, a time when different Christian denominations, including Congregationalists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists, vied for influence in America. Edwards took a systematic approach in the book, drawing extensively on the Scriptures, to present a series of signs or criteria for identifying genuine religious affections.

To Help Christians Discern True Revival from the Heretical

Edwards emphasizes that true religious affections must be firmly grounded in Scripture. Authentic religious affections have God’s glory as their primary focus and are marked by a reverence for God and a desire for His honor. Edwards additionally underscores the importance of humility as a characteristic of true religious affection in this context.

Edwards argues that authentic religious affections produce genuine spiritual fruit in a person’s life. He suggests that strong emotions alone do not necessarily indicate genuine spiritual affection, while the work of the Holy Spirit is necessary for true conversion.

That Impacts Revivalism Today

Edwards provided a comprehensive theological foundation for revivalism in the work. He emphasized the importance of genuine religious experience rooted in a desire for understanding of God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit. His criteria for discerning authentic religious affections served as a theological framework for evaluating the legitimacy of revival experiences.

He also stressed the significance of “heart religion,” emphasizing that true conversion and revival should lead to transformed affections and heartfelt love for our Father God.

While Offering Practical Application

Edwards encourages self-examination and introspection. Editor’s note: Important! Practicing regular self-examination allows believers to evaluate the sincerity of their faith and the authenticity of their religious affections. Humility is also a central factor; recognizing one’s own unworthiness and dependence on God’s grace fosters a humble and contrite heart, which is pleasing to God.

See Psalm 34:18, Psalm 51:17, Isaiah 57:15, and Isaiah 66:2 below:

  • Psalm 34:18: “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”
  • Psalm 51:17: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
  • Isaiah 57:15: “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
  • Isaiah 66:2: “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”

Through a Cottage Industry of Supplementary Resources

Though the cottage supplementary resource industry is not quite as large for this work as others like Pilgrim’s Progress, there is still a lot of good content out there. For our editors, there are two resources that stand out. The first is Steven Lawson’s The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards (pictured) and A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George M. Marsden.

Biographies explore Edwards’ role as a minister and preacher. They describe his preaching style, the content of his sermons, and his pastoral approach. This knowledge can help you connect his practical ministry with the theological concepts in his writings. Edwards’ own spiritual journey and experiences are often documented in biographies, and there’s real value in reading.

Lord's Library is a Christian resource hub. Our  editors use a variety of internet research methods like search engines, audio and video, AI, consultations with ministry leaders in the field, and more. Lord's Library should never be a substitute for reading your Bible daily as the Scriptures are to be our final authority on all matters.

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Timothy Andrew
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Timothy Andrew

Timothy Andrew

Tim is the Founder of Lord's Library. He believes the Bible commands us to minister "as of the ability which God giveth" (1 Peter 4:11). Tim aspires to be as The Lord's mouth by "taking forth the precious from the vile" (Jeremiah 15:19) and witnessing The Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15: 1-4) to the whole world.

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