The answer to this question is, “Yes, of course.”

But the exact nature of that place is often misunderstood and the best expression of the correct understanding of that place is given by that missional theologian par excellence, Jonathan Edwards.

Here is what Edwards says:

Many persons seem to be quite mistaken concerning the nature of Christian fortitude. It is an exceeding diverse thing from a brutal fierceness, or the boldness of the beasts of prey. True Christian fortitude consists in strength of mind, through grace, exerted in two things; in ruling and suppressing the evil and unruly passions and affections of the mind; and in steadfastly and freely exerting, and following good affections and dispositions, without being hindered by sinful fear, or the opposition of enemies. 

But the passions that are restrained and kept under, in the exercise of this Christian strength and fortitude, are those very passions that are vigorously and violently exerted in a false boldness for Christ. And those affections that are vigorously exerted in true fortitude, are those Christian, holy affections that are directly contrary to them. 

Though Christian fortitude appears, in withstanding and counteracting the enemies that are without us; yet it much more appears, in resisting and suppressing the enemies that are within us; because they are our worst and strongest enemies, and have greatest advantage against us.

The strength of the good soldier of Jesus Christ appears in nothing more, than in steadfastly maintaining the holy calm, meekness, sweetness, and benevolence of his mind, amidst all the storms, injuries, strange behavior, and surprising acts and events of this evil and unreasonable world. The Scripture seems to intimate that true fortitude consists chiefly in this: Prov. 16:32, "He that is slow to anger, is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city." [Emphasis added]

For further explanation of what “missional boldness for Christ” looks like, I commend the remainder of Section VIII of Part III of Edwards’s Treatise on Religious Affections

How wonderful it would be if the evangelical Christian church in America were known for its “holy calm, meekness, sweetness, and benevolence of mind, amidst all the storms, injuries, strange behavior, and surprising acts and events of this evil and unreasonable world.”

How wonderful – and pleasing to God - if I were known for this!

Sam Logan is Special Counsel to the President and Professor of Church History at Biblical.  He is an ordained minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.  He is married to Susan and they have two sons and two grandsons. See also


0 #2 Sam 2012-02-25 16:25
That's a fascinating insight, Mahlon. I must admit that I hadn't thought of Edwards's comments like this but I believe that you are correct. One of the things to which Edwards was responding was the fierce controversy over the Great Awakening which had occurred shortly before he wrote "The Affections." Many of those opposing "The Awakening" had attached pro-Awakening preachers as strring up inappropriately "unruly passions of the mind." But many of those supporting the Awakening had been as fierce defending the Awakening. I think Edwards was speaking to both sides - and to himself -in this section of his treatise.
0 #1 Mahlon Smith 2012-02-25 14:41
I preach to my church, and more often to myself, that the Christian's two battlegrounds in practical Christianity are ordering one's thought life and emotional life by the Scriptures. Do you think the phrase about "Christian fortitude appears" describes all at once our intention and the Grace of God working together to suppress "those unruly passions of the mind"? Thanks for the great blog Dr. Logan. May the Lord richly bless you.

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