John Owen—A Caveat, part 1

by | Sep 8, 2018 | Eschatology

Caveat comes from the Latin cavere.  The verb in Latin means to be on guardI am using its English descendant caveat to mean a warning or caution.  Such is my esteem for John Owen that I prefer the softer idea of caution.

John Owen has attained (and not without warrant) a high status among Reformed Baptists in our day.  This status derives from many things, I suppose.  He is certainly a profound and faithful expositor of the Reformed faith.  He is also a progenitor of the Reformed Baptist movement as a Congregationalist Puritan and one of the authors of that confession from which the mass of the 1689 is immediately drawn, the Savoy Declaration of Faith.  The views articulated in the Savoy are only a kind of half step from the positions regarding baptism and the church found in the 1689.  1689 Federalism has publicized the idea that Owen’s views of covenant theology articulate a covenant theology amenable to and even foundational for Reformed Baptist views of covenant theology.

For all of these reasons, to cite Owen is almost to cite Scripture in Reformed books and blogs.  Do we have a celebrity theologian of our own in John Owen? This is a question, I think, worth considering.  Christian realism and spiritual sanity require, I think, that we admit that all men have spiritual and exegetical feet of clay.  I think this is true of John Owen, and in the posts that follow I will point out a place at which I am convinced Owen does have feet of clay.  It is also an exegetical place about which, in my opinion, we may no longer entertain his views without opening ourselves to serious error.


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