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An Introduction to John Owen: A Christian vision for every stage of life

By Crawford Gribben
March 2021 | Review by Matthew Cox
  • Publisher: Crossway Books
  • ISBN: 978-1-43356-965-4
  • Pages: 192
  • Price: £14.50
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Book Review

This unusual yet valuable book is not a biography of the influential Puritan. Rather its purpose – which it achieves capably – is ‘to discover the kind of life he hoped his readers would experience’ (p.13). Drawing on Owen’s extensive bibliography, it shows his ideal of a God-centred life in the key stages of childhood, youth, middle age, and death and eternal life.

Owen’s vision of a childhood filled with biblical instruction and worship is one which needs to be recaptured today. That will only be helped by Gribben’s fascinating examination of his Two Short Catechisms (1645) and Primer (1652), and by the inclusion of his set prayers for children.

A flavour of Owen’s sermons to the young people of Oxford University comes through the still-extant notes of a contemporary student. It was in such preaching that his Of Communion with God (1657) had its origin. In a masterly overview of that classic work, Gribben conveys its sublimity and warmth so keenly that he risks his readers putting his book down to pick Owen’s book up!

As for middle age, Owen’s developing views on wider issues like politics and church order are set helpfully in the context of the social upheavals of his day. And his understanding of death is presented alongside his beautiful prospect of eternal life, in which the believer will physically behold God’s glory ‘in the face of Jesus Christ’ (2 Corinthians 4:6, NKJV).

With clear and intelligent prose, the author is able to showcase Owen’s writings without extensive quotations, interweaving biographical snippets along the way. Thus this Introduction succeeds admirably in making both the theologian more human and his works more accessible.

Matthew Cox

Bethersden, Kent

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Steward Davies
Steward Davies
3 months ago

This is the exact same review as the one for Searching our Hearts in Difficult times (BY John Owen) – review by D. Sandbrook (Pastor at Teddington)

One of them is misapplied!

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