John Owen(1616-1683) is considered one of the leading English Protestant theologians. He lived through Civil War, regicide, the change from republic to restoration, the Great Fire of London and the plague. He was prodigious in output writing eighty titles over the course of forty years. His works spanned a variety of genres including poetry, political commentary, New Testament exegesis and theology. He endured personal tragedy, losing his first wife and all ten of his children. Over the course of a tumultuous life, his opinions on issues such as baptism and the nature of church/state relationships evolved and changed considerably.
The author of this book on Owen describes it as a work of “biographical theology.” Rather than focusing on Owen’s responses to major debates in the Reformed tradition, it highlights the kind of Christian life Owen sought to promote. Owen was greatly influenced by Henry Scudder’s The Christian’s Daily Walk (1627) one of the best selling Puritan devotionals of the day. He believed that an emotional and volitional response to the gospel was extremely important and the greatest threat to true faith was a scholastic Calvinism that engaged the mind but not the heart and will.
The book includes a time line, maps, and an introduction about Owen’s life and work. There are sections on childhood, youth, middle age and death in which Owen’s views of the spiritual formation of each life stage are examined. There is also an appendix with Owen’s Prayers For Children, The Primer (1652). He saw the Christian life as growth in grace. Every Christian needed to know God, walk with God and understand themselves.
I selected this book because my husband (a pastor) has developed an interest in the Puritans, and frankly I found it tough going. Although it isn’t long, it is fairly academic and assumes a good bit of knowledge about English history of the time as well as Reformed theology. It wouldn’t be a good choice for the average layperson.
VERDICT: 3 STARS
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For more on the Puritans, go to this post:
Beyond Stateliest Marble by Douglas Wilson — Book Review