John Owen – The effect and strength of indwelling sin (short video)

John Owen (1616-1683)

John Owen was by common consent the weightiest Puritan theologian, and many would bracket him with Jonathan Edwards as one of the greatest Reformed theologians of all time. Born in 1616, he entered Queen’s College, Oxford, at the age of twelve and secured his M.A. in 1635, when he was nineteen. In his early twenties, conviction of sin threw him into such turmoil that for three months he could scarcely utter a coherent word on anything; but slowly he learned to trust Christ, and so found peace. In 1637 he became a pastor; in the 1640s he was chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, and in 1651 he was made Dean of Christ Church, Oxford’s largest college. In 1652 he was given the additional post of Vice-Chancellor of the University, which he then reorganized with conspicuous success. After 1660 he led the Independents through the bitter years of persecution till his death in 1683.

You can access a John Owens 36 video playlist on Youtube where you can listen to short (approx. 10 minute) readings of first chapters to some of John Owen’s books. There  are also  14 (10 minute)  videos (readings) to the entire book ‘The Mortification of sin in Believers’ by John Owen.

The Puritans – Getting to Know John Owen, the most prominent theologian of the 17th century

In many ways, the great Puritan theologian John Owen (1616-1683) was not unique for his day. This is not simply playing the contrarian. It is important to emphasize that he was one of many “hotter sort of Protestants;” one of many who bemoaned that the church in England was still “halfly reformed.” Owen’s theology was certainly not unique, but was one representative within the broader movement of Reformed orthodoxy. Many of his contemporaries had similar influence, some with even more political clout and others with seemingly more effective preaching. It is also necessary to note that Owen had his critics. Many of these critics, not surprisingly, strongly disagreed with his theology. But he also faced some disparagement for his persona: some thought he was too overbearing, too stern; and many more thought his knee-high leather boots and cocked hat were far too ostentatious for a university vice chancellor. Even today, he’s as famous (or infamous) for his long and lumbering writing style as much as almost anything else—a reputation that Owen seems to have garnered even in his own day.

All of that being said, I do think there are at least three ways in which Owen was particularly important for his time and in the church since.

Here is Carl Trueman, Professor at Westminster Theological Seminary with a synopsis on John Owen:

Great Literary Output

His literary output was unique for its volume, diversity, and importance. The sheer magnitude of material Owen produced is staggering, especially when we today consider that it was under candlelight, with quill pen, and alongside many competitions for time and concentration (e.g., civil war, poor health, family deaths, persecution, ecclesiastical-political leadership, running an almost decimated Oxford University, etc.). His Works stretch 23 volumes in the still-in-print Banner of Truth edition, 24 volumes in the 1850-55 edition. A few of Owen’s contemporaries produced a similar amount of writing, such as Thomas Manton, whose works reach 22 volumes. But in the case of Manton, the majority of his works are published sermons. Owen’s Works contain two volumes of Parliamentary sermons, but ten-fold are the significant works of polemics, doctrinal treatise, practical theology, and one massive commentary on Hebrews with more than 1,000 pages of prefatory material and 2,500 pages of commentary (Vols. 17-23 in the Banner edition).

This and several other works have proven to be unique contributions to the church. His several works on Reformed spirituality have become somewhat movement-defining (Vols. 1, 2, and 4). Abraham Kuyper thought that Owen’s massive work on the Holy Spirit (Vol. 3) was unparalleled. Of course, even those who disagree with Owen’s view of particular redemption know that it is unavoidable to interact with the standard-bearer, The Death of Death (Vol. 10). Owen attempted at least one work on the nature and structure of theology. This Latin work, Theologoumena Pantadapa (1661), is sadly not included in the Banner edition of Works, though there is a paraphrastic English translation (Biblical Theology [Morgan: Soli Deo Gloria, 1994]). There are certainly some forgettable sections (one that defends the inspiration of the Masoretic vowel points); but it is nevertheless an important and often overlooked representative of 17th-century “Federal Theology”—a biblical-historical model of theological organization. In short, the enormity, variety, and effect of Owen’s work stands out in his day—or any day for that matter.

Leader in His Day

Owen was a prominent figure in the very “Puritan-esque” times of England’s Revolution and Restoration. He preached to Parliament the day after the king was executed for treason. With the king out of the way, the army and Parliament leaned heavily in the Puritan direction; thus, the 1650s looked to be an unprecedented time to implement many Puritan ideals. Owen enjoyed a unique relationship with Oliver Cromwell, functioning as a leading adviser to the Lord Protector on the complex and ever-changing ecclesiastical-political climate. Indeed, Owen was one of only a handful to construct several legislative proposals for settling a state church during the Protectorate—one that would be healthy, godly, effective, and uncoercive.

All the while, Owen was both vice chancellor of Oxford University and dean of one of its leading colleges, Christ Church. For almost a decade, Owen had the charge of restoring order and glory to England’s oldest university. He was also increasingly a leading figure of the growing movement of Congregational churches in England (and America). This leadership became more apparent and more needed when in 1662 the Independents were ejected from their churches and forbidden to preach publically. Many Puritans, like John Bunyan, suffered years of imprisonment. Though Owen preached and conducted house meetings during these days, he did not face similar persecution (likely because of the already well-established respect he had broadly earned). But Owen did not take such freedom for granted: he constantly pleaded for the release of his imprisoned brethren, wrote many defenses of Reformed non-conformity, repeatedly appealed to the king for liberty, and gave financial aid to many persecuted Puritans and their families.

In these latter days, he was offered the presidency of Harvard and the pastorate of the highly esteemed First Congregational Church of Boston, but he turned them down to remain in his diverse, needed work in England. Therefore, it is an understatement to say that Owen had his fingers in many pies. Whether literary, pastoral, theological, political, academic/educational, or social, his efforts were indeed diverse and he held a prominent place in each. He was not just a “jack of all trades,” but more like a “master of many.” And, whether the Puritans were “in season” (Revolution) or “out of season” (Restoration), he was not only faithful but prominent.

Long and Lasting Influence

The influence of Owen’s life and writing is also quite telling. He has not enjoyed the notoriety of a Luther, Calvin, or Edwards, but it is difficult to think of any contemporary of Owen’s who has had a broader and longer-lasting influence. A few, such as Thomas Goodwin, were indeed very significant in the mid-17th century, but they have not had the same effect on the centuries to follow. Conversely, Owen has been the focus of approximately 30 books and dissertations over the last 20 years. Four significant scholarly works on Owen were published in 2008 alone. More than a few scholars have a major academic work on Owen in process. And, of course, he’s not just of interest to scholars. His practical writings are as widely enjoyed as ever, thanks in part to the modern, unabridged versions edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor (Overcoming Sin and Temptation [Wheaton: Crossway, 2006] and Communion with the Triune God [Wheaton: Crossway, 2007]). Owen’s stock seems to be rightly on the rise, further confirming Charles Spurgeon’s commendation of more than a century ago: “It is unnecessary to say that he is the prince of divines.”

A version of this article first appeared in the Forum section of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, Vol 14, No. 4 (Winter 2010).

A 10 minute  reading of the first part of John Owen’s book „Apostasy from the Gospel” interesting to see how John Owen studied the Church Fathers and how they reacted toward church member who sinned.

George Galis – Proorocia care mi-a citit gindurile la Biserica Penticostala din comuna Vladimirescu

Biserica Penticostala din Micalaca, Arad 2008 (sursa Aradon)

In vara anului 2008, am primit invitatia fratilor de la Biserica din Micalaca,  Arad, de a participa la sarbatoarea  de deschidere a Noului Locas de Inchinare.

Calatoria mea la Arad la aceasta sarbatoare din Micalaca unde cu aceasta ocazie  pastorul Cornel Borlovan a predat stafeta pastorului David Margaianu, avea o semnificatie dubla pentru mine. In primul rand Biserica din Micalaca era prima Biserica pe care am frecventat-o cind eram copil, intre anii 1945-1950. In al doilea rand in calatoria aceasta am venit ca sa ma interesez personal de o problema de care era afectata Biserica noastra din Chicago. Nu am spus nimanui de intentia mea cu privire la aceasta problema.

Am ajuns la ultima mea saptamina a sederii mele acolo, iar in ziua de Vineri, inainte de ultima Duminica  care urma sa o mai petrec in Arad, am fost invitat de pastorul Danut Crisan de la Biserica Penticostala din comuna Vladimirescu de linga Arad, unde s-a tinut o saptamana de Evanghelizare  si urma ca Vineri sa se incheie cu un serviciu care a durat de la ora 7 seara pana la 11 seara. Evanghelistul serii a fost advocatul Cultului Penticostal, fratele Iovanovici.

Biserica Penticostala din Micalaca, Arad 2008 (sursa Aradon)

Pe la 0ra 10:30 seara, cand vorbitorul a luat o pauza, Danut m-a pus pe mine sa aduc un scurt mesaj. M-am ridicat la amvon sa vorbesc si dupa numai cinci minute dupa ce eu am inceput sa vorbesc, un frate care statea pe al treilea rind din fata a sarit in sus si a inceput sa-mi vorbeasca astfel in fata a peste 500 de suflete care ma priveau foarte atenti ascultind totodata si ei la proorocia acelui frate : „Barbatule, toata ziua te -au framantat gindurile pentru problema care te preocupa si pentru care ai venit sa afli tu personal adevarul” si mi-a spus apoi toate gindurile,  ginduri care m-au framintat in ziua aceia de vineri pina si fraze intregi care eu le-am spus numai eu de mine, in propriul meu cuget, mi-au fost destainuite prin acel frate.

Aflasem unele lucruri si ma gandeam sa nu le spun si Pastorului de la Biserica unde eram membru ci sa le tin numai pentru mine. Proorocul mi-a spus : sa nu ascunzi nimic de Robul Meu Pastorul, sfatuiti-va impreuna si sa-i spui tot ce ti-am descoperit si pana acuma, dar in urmatoarele zile va veni o persoana la tine pe care tu nu o cunosti si ea iti  va spune totul. Apoi fratele prooroc mi se adreseaza mie personal in continuare, zicind in felul urmator: „Satana este foarte furios pe tine si se va atinge de persoana ta, si de trupul tau,  iti va face mult rau, dar oridecite ori te loveste cu vreun necaz sau o boala, tu sa spui: Domnul si de aici ma va izbavi, si vei fi izbavit. Si copiii tai si nepotii tai vor fi loviti intr-o masura mai mica si ei sa spuna ca tine si vor fi izbaviti”.

Biserica Penticostala din Micalaca, Arad 2008 (sursa Aradon)

Dupa aceasta fratele s-a oprit in timp ce toata multimea de peste 500 de frati si surori priveau la mine asteptind sa auda ce voi raspunde eu.Eu am luat cuvintul si am spus caci daca vor sa afle daca aceasta proorocie vine de la Dumnezeu, sa stie cu totii ca aceasta lucrare este de la Dumnezeu, si ca pina atunci niciodata in viata mea nimeni nu mi-a citit vreodata gindul si sa-mi spuna si ceea ce gindesc. Asta nu mi s-antimplat niciodata.

Dumineca intre servicii, stateam si ma odihneam intru-un apartament pe Calea Aurel Vlaicu pus la dispozitia mea de un frate din Arad. Pe la ora doua dupa amiaza ma suna cineva la telefon si cind ridic, era o femeie, care i-mi spune cine este, zice stiu ca nu ma cunosti nici eu nu te cunosc, dar Domnul m-a instiintat sa te caut si  vreau sa stau de vorba cu dumneata impreuna cu sotul meu. Au sosit imediat si am stat de vorba cu ei cam vreo o ora si jumatate  timp in care mi-au destainuit taina si care este situatia acelui caz de care am vrut sa aflu.   Familia aceasta mi-a spus: am auzit vorbindu-se de dumneata si Dumnezeu mi-a vorbit ca sa vin la dumneata si sa i-ti spun totul.

Ne-am rugat impreuna si seara am fost impreuna in biserica din Micalaca unde eu am avut si un mesaj. Dupa ce am ajuns inapoi in Chicago,  personal eu trec de atunci mereu  prin tot felul de probleme si tot felul de boli, si chiar un nepot de-al meu a suferit un accident groaznic, incit a fost nevoie de pompieri ca sa vina si sa taie usa de la masina in care era el ca sa poata sa-l scoata afara din masina lui care a fost complect distrusa,  dar el a avut doar citeva zgirieturi minore. Slavit sa fie Dumnezeu! Si Dumnezeu sa binecuvinteze pe fratele Laita..

George Galis, interviu la Statia Radio CNM, Arad; Emisiunea Eben Ezer cu Toni Farcas (Host) Ghita Dragan (Manager) 2008

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