Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
RBTR 5:1 (Jan 2008) p. 109
Readers will understand that we are not able to supply these books.
John Owen: Reformed Catholic, Renaissance Man. Carl R. Trueman (Aldershot, Hampshire, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2007), 132 pages,
reviewed by Richard C. Barcellos
Carl R. Trueman has two published monographs on John Owen: The Claims of Truth: John Owen’s Trinitarian Theology (Paternoster Press, 1998) and now John Owen: Reformed Catholic, Renaissance Man (JO), part of Ashgate Publishing’s Great Theologians Series.
Trueman opens with a brief biographical sketch of Owen. One of the ironic things about Owen is that though he “was without doubt the most significant theological intellect in England in the third quarter of the seventeenth century” (1), he remains a little known figure outside of a small circle of conservative evangelical churches and an even smaller circle of early modern intellectual historians. Happily, Trueman informs us that the literature on Owen is growing, a fact that should bring his life and thought to more readers.
The bulk of chapter one discusses the historical and theological context in which Owen was educated, thought, and wrote. Trueman asks this question: “Owen: Puritan or Reformed?” He argues that the term “Puritan” is too limiting and opts instead for the phrase “Reformed orthodoxy” to describe the school of thought to which Owen belongs. This terminology is easier to define and less limiting than the term “Puritan.” Trueman defines “Reformed orthodoxy” as “the tradition of Protestant thought which found its creedal expression on the continent in such documents as, among others, the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dordt, and in Britain in the Westminster Assembly’s Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter Catechisms” (6).
Trueman also views Reformed orthodoxy as one link in the chain “of the wider ongoing Western tradition of theological and philosophical thought” (6). Following Richard Muller’s lead in his monumental Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Trueman places Owen in the third phase of Reformed orthodox development, “that of High Orthodoxy (c. 1640-1700)” (7). This phase was characterized by Roman Catholic, Arminian, and Socinian polemics and was the high point of the
RBTR 5:1 (Jan 2008) p. 110
systematic elaboration of Reformed theology prior to the onslaught of the Enlightenment and the post-Enlightenment critical era. Owen “articulates his theology in terms of both careful exegesis and of constructive dialogue with the exegetical and theological traditions of the church” (7). Unlike som...
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