Puritanism

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Book Review: “Owen on the Christian Life” by Matthew Barrett and Michael Haykin

ocl-bhOwen on the Christian Life provides a broad-spectrum approach to John Owen’s theological insights into the Christian life. It is part of the “Theologians on the Christian Life” series from Crossway (see my other reviews in this series here).

John Owen was a Puritan. Yes, one of “those people.” The word “puritan” has something of a bad connotation nowadays, but the theological movement was actually remarkably broad. Moreover, many insights can be gleaned from reading through the works of these theologians who emphasized a Christian life lived.

The authors outline Owen’s theology through a number of chapters that build on each other, including chapters on the Trinity, penal substitution, justification, and more. Readers also learn about Owen’s transition towards congregationalism, discussions about church and state, and more.

Central to Owen’s theology are the Trinitarian relations, which can help us to learn about divine-human and human-relations as well. Owen emphasized the importance of religious experience for the Christian life. This experience was never taken to trump the authority of the Bible–far from it. Instead, it was taken to be a bulwark in times of doubt and need. Justification in Owen’s view provides a way to be assured of one’s salvation, for God completes that which God has set out to do. Sanctification is where I believe Owen’s main contributions might be found, though I will outline that more below.

The primary critique I have of the book is that it doesn’t seem to focus on Owen’s specific views of the Christian life as the other works in the series have. As I outlined above, there are chapters emphasizing various aspects of Owen’s theology, but these only get tied into the Christian life in what seems like offhand fashion at times. This makes the book read more like an exposition of Owen’s broader (largely Calvinistic) theology than a specific look at his doctrine of the Christian life. Particularly surprising to me was how Owen’s insights on sanctification and overcoming sin and temptation were lumped in with discussions of the power of prayer and the indwelling Spirit. Perhaps this is at least partially my own bias, having been edified greatly by his works on sin and temptation, but I think that more space dedicated to his work in this area would have been on point in a book on the Christian life.

That said, the authors do a good job summarizing Owen’s approach to overcoming sin and putting it to death in our lives. Owen argues for several steps a Christian can take to battle sin and temptation in their lives. This is a proactive approach which views the Christian life as a Spirit-empowered battle against the temptations we face. Steps Owen describes include the envisioning of the consequences of sin, reflection on the Bible, and realizing the fact of the suffering our sin causes Christ.

Owen on the Christian Life provides insight into the whole of Owen’s theology, with a focus on his theology of Christian living. It’s not necessarily as focused on the topic at hand as some other books in the series, but it is a worthy read that provides an introduction into the thought of this theological giant.

The Good

+Excellent insights into the Christian life
+Provides broad overview of Owen’s work
+Great insights into doctrine of the Holy Spirit, sanctification, and more

The Bad

-Doesn’t seem to focus entirely on the Christian Life

Links

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Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

Book Review: “Overcoming Sin and Temptation” by John Owen– I review a book from John Owen which has positively impacted my spiritual life in many ways.

Source

Matthew Barrett and Michael Haykin Owen on the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015).

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Book Review: “Packer on the Christian Life” by Sam Storms

pcl-stormsPacker on the Christian Life by Sam Storms summarizes much of J.I. Packer’s thoughts that answer the question “How now shall we live?” I’ve enjoyed Storms’ works before and have been curious to learn more about Packer, so I was looking forward to this read.

The book starts with some brief biographical information on Packer. Then, we are quickly thrust into core aspects of his theological framework. In particular, Packer emphasized the atonement as central to any Christian understanding of life or doctrine. The Bible is seen as the authority for the Christian life. These early chapters are used to set the stage for a more holistic approach found afterwards.

Packer’s stance is heavily influenced by Puritanism. The Puritans have suffered from a bit of a bad reputation, and some of it has been deserved. However, the insights the Puritans gave into living purely (sorry) are worth reading about, and Packer’s view of the Christian life highlights them throughout. The battle against indwelling sin, the definitions and search for holiness, and the like; all are colored with Puritan lenses, and this provides a different approach than some of the other books in the series.

After the holistic approach found in the middle section of the book, individual topics are addressed. These include the work of the Holy Spirit, prayer, discerning God’s will, and enduring suffering. The chapters on prayer and enduring suffering are particularly edifying. Packer offers biblical answers to perceived unanswered prayers as well as insight into how to pray and why and when (always). His approach to enduring suffering leans heavily towards a Calvinistic response, and Storms presents it in a pastoral, applicable manner.

Storms admirably handles Packer’s view on spiritual gifts. Packer is a cessationist but seems to have a rather moderating position, whereas Storms has been an outspoken continuationist. He fairly presents Packer’s view on the topic of miraculous gifts without criticism–an appropriate stance given the purpose of the book.

Packer on the Christian Life is another good entry into the “Theologians on the Christian Life” series. I enjoyed it quite a bit, though I think the entries on Luther and John Newton were slightly better. It comes recommended.

The Good

+Good insight on varied practical topics, including prayer
+Makes accessible, in one place, much of Packer’s work
+Highlights contributions possible from Puritanism

The Bad

-Could use more exposition in addition to all the quotes

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to provide any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.

Source

Sam Storms, Packer on the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015).

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Book Review: “Overcoming Sin and Temptation” by John Owen

ost-owenBe killing sin, or it will be killing you. – John Owen

John Owen was a Puritan minister who lived in the 1600s. In Overcoming Sin and Temptation, we are presented with a collection of three of his works–“Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers,” “Of Temptation, the Nature and Power of It,” and “Indwelling Sin”–which are aimed at leading believers to an awareness of their own sin and the overcoming of it.

If I had to sum up this volume with one word, I would say: “Convicting.” John Owen throughout does a fantastic job calling believers to the awareness of their own sin and the various ways in which we deny our sin and try to pretend it isn’t there. There were many times I found myself nodding along, realizing that Owen had laid bare yet another way I had been trying to ignore sin in my own life. It is a powerful work of law.

Owen points out how we often rely upon grace in the face of temptation–surely we will be forgiven this sin!–rather than putting the temptation to death; he notes how we often try to ignore sin through various means like the weariness of our body (we’re too tired to avoid this sin); he exhaustively draws out the many ways we deceive ourselves through our sin and persist in sin. It’s almost tiring because we realize how often our sins have been covered up in our minds through rationalizing it away.

But Owen does not end with the conviction of our hearts for our sin. Instead, as the title of this book suggests, he puts forward ways in which we may overcome sin and temptation. Primarily, they involve watchfulness and prayer. We are called by Owen to an active assault on sin rather than passive resistance. We must always be looking out for the ways sin penetrates our lives and close those gaps. Some concrete things Owen suggests are focusing upon Christ’s work and how our sin adds to Christ’s suffering; thinking upon the grace and love of God and how we wound the great God who made us when we sin; considering God’s sovereignty and asking, with Joseph in Genesis, “How can I sin against my God?” These are only a few of the ways Owen suggests we put sin to death in our lives.

This edition of the works is made especially helpful by extensive notes explaining hard-to-understand words. Various explanatory words are sometimes added into the text (always bracketed so readers know they have been added) to continue Owen’s train of thought. Each work has a brief but information-packed introduction, and there are lengthy and detailed outlines of the works at the end of the book.

I do wish the editors had also decided to make the language throughout the text gender-inclusive. It is jarring to have to continually process: “Oh yeah, he’s using ‘men’ to reference ‘people.” It may seem like a small thing, but if this is so clearly what Owen means when he says “he” or “man” or “men,” etc., then why not just say it through the editorial process? This is a minor strike against an otherwise excellent work.

I recommend that every Christian obtain a volume of Overcoming Sin and Temptation, read it prayerfully, and integrate it into their lives. We must be killing sin lest it kill us.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of the book through Crossway. I was not obligated by the publisher to give any specific type of feedback whatsoever.

Source

John Owen, Overcoming Sin and Temptation (Downers Grove, IL: Crossway, 2006).

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more.

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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