Book recommended: A Supreme Love (William Edgar, 2022)

William Edgar—Bill, to friends like me—is professor of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary. He is a scholar, author, and pianist, a jazz pianist. Some of us suspect that he teaches theology merely to pay the bills so he can have time to play jazz, and that this is his true vocation. I have been present when he lectures, and always found him informed, well-researched, thoughtful, and passionate for communicating the truth. I have also been present when he is at the piano and marveled at how alive he seems. But I am suggesting a false dichotomy. His theological teaching and defense of Christian faith is one with his art and love of jazz because his Lord is Lord of all. He has written some excellent books on theology, and I recommend them to you. In A Supreme Love, his passion for truth and beauty, for theology and art blend into one, and may represent the book that he was created to write for God’s glory.

“I want to advocate for this extraordinary music,” Dr. Edgar writes, “that is deeply informed by Christian convictions. In my view, jazz is best understood in light of the gospel” [p. 2]. If, like me, you know little of the history of jazz and are not sure how to understand and appreciate it, A Supreme Love serves as a thorough and considerate introduction. Edgar gladly introduces rookies like me to this art form without making me feel like a philistine for coming to appreciate it late in life.

Edgar begins with the story of the history of jazz, providing insight into the suffering in African American slavery that gave birth to this eloquent art form. And throughout the text, Edgar lists in footnotes recordings on the internet that readers can listen to for free in order to comprehend the points he is making. It slows down one’s readings, but as this jazz novice can attest, taking the time to listen to each recommendation is to embrace an education is aural beauty, lively imagination, and intellectual refinement.

A good introduction to A Supreme Love is a Trinity Forum conversation with Dr. Edgar available free online here.

A Supreme Love: The Music of Jazz and the Hope of the Gospel has been a portal into a new world for me. It has taught me much and filled my soul with joy. I am deeply grateful.

Book recommended: A Supreme Love: The Music of Jazz and the Hope of the Gospel by William Edgar, Foreword by Carl & Karen Ellis (InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL; 2022) 180 pages + appendix + image credits + index.

Photo credit: Image taken by author on his iPhone.