Communion with God: The Divine and the Human in the Theology of John Owen
“I remember a time when a stereotype of the English Puritans as crude religious bigots held sway, and academic analysis and appreciation of their thought was virtually nonexistent. Accurate understanding of the magisterial Reformers was similarly at a discount, and the English translation of Calvin’s Institutes was out of print. But pendulums swing, and today the study of Reformation theology and of Lutheran and Calvinist scholasticism and of early European pietism and of the many-sided Puritan legacy has become a sizable cottage industry in academia’s larger world. Lecture courses, doctoral theses, journal articles, and printed books on the Puritans now abound, and the flow increases. Reissues of Puritan material constantly appear, and it is clear that more and more
Christians are coming to value this heritage. Some of us find that a very hopeful sign.
A cultural development in the West that has triggered some of this renewed interest in Puritan Christianity is our latter-day focus on experience, our longing for good experiences, and our awareness that experiences spawned by our sophisticated hedonism are mostly unsatisfying, not to say bad. Out of this has blossomed a fixation on personal spirituality, meaning a quest for self-discovery and self-transcendence, and this has led some to a fresh exploration of Christian spirituality―the theological, pastoral, communal, ethical, ascetic, doxological reality of communion with God in and through Jesus Christ in faith and hope and love. As a result, there is dawning a new appreciation of the supreme excellence in this field of Puritans such as John Bunyan, Richard Baxter, Jonathan Edwards, and John Owen.
Long regarded as Puritanism’s theological Everest, Owen was forgotten in the twentieth century until about twenty years ago. As Dr. Kapic’s bibliography shows, there have been some voyages around him, and some soundings of his thought on specifics, in recent years. None of these, however, come as close to Owen’s heart as Dr. Kapic himself does. For understanding, enjoying, and communicating communion with God was what Owen understood his life and ministry to be all about. His writings reveal him as not only an evangelical confessor and controversialist in the Reformed mainstream, but also as a Calvinist catechist, weaving in applicatory pastoral rhetoric at every point. Dr. Kapic coins the word anthroposensitive to characterize this aspect of his expository
method. It fits.
This is a landmark book in modern Puritan study, and it is a joy to commend it.”
– J.I. Packer, Forward to Kelly M. Kapic, Communion with God: The Divine and the Human in the Theology of John Owen (©2007 Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group).