Sunday, November 30, 2008

John Owen's Echo

As I mentioned in one of my responses recently, I have been reading quite a bit of John Owen lately. I have adopted him as my "witness" from among the great cloud of witnesses to learn from. In this, I am following the advice of John Piper which I heard him offer at a conference of the Jonathan Edwards Institute several years ago. He recommended that we find one theologian/pastor/missionary from church history to study, and to learn all that we can from that person. Of course, it must be someone who is exemplary in conduct and orthodox in teaching. The person must also have enough published writings available to make a thorough study possible. Piper had chosen Jonathan Edwards. At this conference, he held up the two volume copy of Edwards' works published by Banner of Truth and said, "If you can't buy any other book on the book tables, you need to buy these. Don't buy a Piper book. If you've read one Piper book you've read them all. I only have one message that I repeat over and over in every book. Besides, I'm only an echo of Jonathan Edwards." I'll add that having read both men there is no denying the profound influence Edwards has had on Piper, for the glory of God and the splendor of Christ's Bride, the church. After reading several of Owen's works, though my heart's desire is ultimately to be conformed to Jesus Christ, I believe it would honor God if I were but an echo of John Owen. I came across this statement of Richard Daniel's from his book The Christology of John Owen on
…there is one motif so important to John Owen, so often and so broadly cited by him, that the writer would go so far as to call it the focal point of Owen’s theology…. namely, the doctrine that in the gospel we behold, by the Christ-given Holy Spirit, the glory of God "in the face of Christ" and are thereby changed into his image…. (92)

Jamie, I can't think of anything more in line with the vision of this blog: Convinced of the truth that we will become what we focus on. Therefore we focus on beholding Christ in the hope that we will become like Him.

Expect to hear many echos of John Owen in the days ahead.

Josh Owen


John Lucas said...

Thanks for your words of wisdom on gleaning from the giants of our past. Owen is one of my favorites too, though I confess that I have not read as much as you have. I have two things for you to do:
1. List some recommendations for good saints of old for us to "latch on to" as you proposed. This would be a great resource for the rest of us.
2. Post the books you are currently reading on the left hand side (go to settings when you log in). This way we can see your diet of reading that feeds your soul and hopefully I can steal ideas from you. Thanks brother.

Joshua Owen said...

Thanks for the tip on how to post on the left hand side, John. I wasn't sure how to do that.

John, you and Jamie probably know as many, if not more, saints worthy of a lifetime of study. I believe Jamie has invested a lot of time in C. H. Spurgeon. If I remember correctly, I think you are a student of Jeremiah Burroughs. I think the ones who left us with enough valuable material are well-known to all of us. Luther and Calvin are perhaps the most obvious. The nice thing about Jonathan Edwards and John Owen is that you don't have to learn a foreign language to read them in the original; although it may help to have a little Latin, since they write as though their readers are competent in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Among Baptist heroes that have a significant amount of published works available (though maybe not as many as the above mentioned) I'd recommend John Bunyan and Andrew Fuller. B. B. Warfield and Gerhardus Vos are more recent worthies.

Who would you recommend?