There Can Only Be One (Or, Jonathan Edwards and Highlander Theology)

Hypothetically, if there was only ONE person at any one time on the face of planet Earth who qualified as “Christian”…how sure are you that it would be YOU and not one of the billion(s) also claiming that distinction?

That’s a pretty intense question, right? But it’s exactly the type of question that Jonathan Edwards, still widely considered the most influential theologian, pastor, and thinker America has ever produced, asked himself daily.


At the age of eighteen, Edwards began working on a series of resolutions that would serve as a series of checks and balances for his life and help him evaluate how his daily walk with Christ was or wasn’t progressing. Eventually he compiled a list of 70 Resolutions and decided to review them each evening, each week, each month, etc.

This was far from a legalistic set of rules through which he was attempting to earn salvation or righteousness-at the very beginning he notes that he is “unable to do anything without God’s help.” But his Calvinistic theology was not opposed to effort on his part! Rather it freed him to pursue holiness with all his might and ability, confident that any “good” he achieved was by God’s power and to God’s glory.

I recently read through his list of resolutions and one in particular stood out: his determination to act as if he was “that one” Christian.

63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan. 14 and July 13, 1723.

So how about it? Supposing that there was just one “complete Christian” today, could it (through God’s enabling power) be you?


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