Derek Thomas Lectures on John Owen

John Owen’s Pastoral Theology
Lectures by Dr. Derek Thomas

Here’s a collection of eight valuable lectures by Derek Thomas on the Pastoral Theology of John Owen delivered at the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary this past Spring. They are here posted with the kind permission of Dr. Thomas and the President of PRTS, Dr. Joel Beeke.

The course description and objectives are below.


Lecture 1 (1:33:29, 37.5 MB) download
Lecture 2 (1:21:15, 37.3 MB) download
Lecture 3 (1:33:58, 43.1 MB) download
Lecture 4 (1:27:10, 40.0 MB) download
Lecture 5 (1:20:11, 36.8 MB) download
Lecture 6 (1:28:23, 40.5 MB) download
Lecture 7 (1:23:48, 38.4 MB) download
Lecture 8 (1:31:14, 41.8 MB) download

Course Description

“I owe more, I think, to John Owen than to any other theologian, ancient or modern” (J.I. Packer).

John Owen (1616-1683) was perhaps the weightiest of the Puritan theologians, often mentioned in the same breath as John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards as one of three greatest reformed theologians of all time. Remarkable though it is that he lived through the period of the Westminster Assembly without ever having been asked to take part in it, Owen nevertheless towers over this period, rising to the post of Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University.

His thoughts are massive, even intimidating; but a closer reflection reveals a man absorbed by the demands of piety and Christ-likeness, a truly humble man who could say “I hold myself bound in conscience and in honour, not even to imagine that I have attained a proper knowledge of anyone article of truth, much less to publish it, unless through the Holy Spirit I have had such a taste of it, in its spiritual sense, that I may be able, from the heart, to say with the psalmist, ‘I have believed, and therefore have I spoken.'”

The course will focus on those aspects of his theology which relate immediately to concerns of spiritual piety, including Owen’s view of the Christian life and the demands of mortification.

Initially lectures on Owenian theology will be given in order to introduce the student to the finer points of Owenian/Puritan theology and distinctives. At some point (to be determined) the format will assume the form of a seminar where participation (involving some preparation) will be expected.

Course objectives

According to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Owen on the whole is difficult to read” (Preaching and Preachers, London, 1971, p. 175). Similar sentiments are expressed by J. I Packer when he says, “There is no denying that Owen is heavy and hard to read” (Introductory Essay to The Death of Death, London, 1959, p. 25). But this need not be the case. Recalling that Owen wrote for teenagers at Oxford university, and that, in the main, his concerns were pastoral and eminently practical, Owen can be read, if not with ease, then with profit. A rule of thumb here may be to avoid beginning at the beginning! Several volumes contain some of Owen’s sermons (and it needs to be recalled that much of Owen was at one time sermonic in nature before being committed to writing); these might seem an ideal place to start. Choosing volumes for special study for this course has been difficult since there is a desire perhaps to obtain some knowledge of the whole range of Owen’s corpus. But we shall concentrate on a little with a view to the student gaining sufficient skill and interest to make the rest of Owen a lifetime’s study.

In a nutshell, you are to enjoy this course. Owen is one of those figures that will take a lifetime to master (and then some!). My hope is that I will whet your appetite to make him a companion who will accompany you on the journey of service for our Master.

24 thoughts on “Derek Thomas Lectures on John Owen

  1. I did not hear these lectures “exactly,” but I did hear Dr. Thomas teach this course at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS in 2004. Owen is a giant among giants, and Derek gives not only his knowledge of Owen, but his love of Owen as well.

    This is well worth the download.

  2. Tony, in your opinion, who among the vast crowd of Reformed theologians should I first consult in the topic of aesthetics? Also, what work of their’s, specifically, should I read concerning aesthetics?

    I figured since you have read such an abundance of authors and their works, you of all people would know. If you don’t, however, don’t feel bad. :) Thanks for any information you can help me with. For some reason, I’ve taken an interest in aesthetics and wanted to see what was written in days of old by men much wiser than myself.

  3. Uhm… Both? Hahaha! :) I didn’t know there was a difference. I suppose more so the area of worship. I came across the phrase, “theological aesthetics,” if that helps anything. Either one would be fine with me. I would just like to learn about aesthetics from a Reformed viewpoint.

    Sorry I’m making this so difficult. That’s what happens when I haven’t the foggiest what I’m trying to learn about.

  4. I have been narrating some of John Owen’s works for 20 years.

    The place to start with Owen is Volume 6. I suppose if you are really a theological genius, you could start with Volume 17. Yes, there really is a volume 17. I own an antique copy and it is ALL in Latin. It was translated in 1993 and published by SDG publications. Their ttitle was Biblical Theology.

    Owen may be difficult, but he is essential. Few puritans probe as deep. Richard Baxter, certainly, Joseph Alleine, and Thomas Shepard, but Owen is my salt as well as light. Also essential is “The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded”

    But remember, Owen is only useful to you as he points you to Christ. The Glory of Christ is an excellent volume as well.

  5. It appears that I had a really bad connection the first time I tried to listen to the Derek Thomas lectures on John Owen. It seems to be working just fine now. I would also like to say that it is great to listen to Dr. Thomas’ lectures. He obviously has an excellent grasp of Owen and it is wonderful to listen to him talk about this giant of the faith because it seems to be just like a story that he’s telling of someone that he knows intimately. If you haven’t taken the time to listen to these lectures I would highly recommend that you do. You will want to listen to them over and over again. Thank you very much for making them available to the public.

  6. Thanks for posting this. I love John Owen (even named my son after him!) and am thankful to learn from others about him. I’ve linked to this from my blog now as well. Thanks again.

  7. Dear Dr. Thomas; Thank you for this posting, I enjoyed your heartfelt and very informative first lecture. As I am currently preaching on the attributes of God I feel after listening to your lecture that I must read some of John Owen will preparing this series

    Warm regards!

    Rev. Ken Walker
    New Hope Community Church
    Congregational Christian Churches in Canada

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