Monday, October 8, 2007

Communion with the Triune God – John Owen

I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I signed on for the free download from Crossway. What I discovered was daunting, enlightening, and foreboding all at the same time. I discovered an uncovered work of a seventeenth century master teacher that has been revived and revitalized for students of theology today. Editors Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor have reworked Owen’s words to make the text more readable for modern audiences but at the same time keeping the text faithful to itself.

Communion with the Triune God is in and of itself a treasure if for no other reason that it brings to light the basis for some of our evangelical beliefs today. It has merit in giving us the thought processes that form our background. On the other hand, it is heady work, written in a day when more words meant deeper thinking and greater spirituality held firm. For this reason, I am afraid that many readers will pass up the book.

Some of the greater merit of the book lies in the introductory essay offered by Kapic who gives a scholarly treatment of not only this, but also a number of Owen’s other writings as well. The editor’s treatment of Owen’s explanation of the worship of God in His unique existence is helpful for all who are trying to grasp the mystery of the Trinity. More than once we are reminded that God is God and is One. At the same time, the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God—all unique in their expression, but all unified in their existence.

The structure of the book includes a sea of footnotes, some used as reference notes from the original author (although scholarly work was documented differently in those days) and some to explain an archaic word for modern-day readers. The editors include an extensive outline at the beginning of the text to help navigate the massive amount of information as well as a lengthy glossary and a variety of indices to aid the reader in using this volume as a reference tool.

This work is best suited for the scholarly minister or professor, but will hold little appeal for the church at large. It is useful for study, but perhaps not so interesting as an uplifting read. Communion with a Triune God receives 3 thumbs.

—Benjamin Potter, October 8, 2007

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