Saturday, November 8, 2014

A review of The Foundation of Communion with God: The Trinitarian Piety of John Owen by Ryan McGraw

A review of The Foundation of Communion with God: The Trinitarian Piety of John Owen by Ryan McGraw:

Publisher's description:

“The Foundation of Communion with God” introduces readers to the Trinitarian piety of John Owen (1616–1683). Ryan McGraw’s introduction to Owen sketches the major events of this important theologian’s life and shows how his circumstances shaped his thought on the themes of the Trinity and public worship. The second part of the book presents forty-one brief selections from Owen’s writings that trace his thoughts on knowing God as triune, on Scripture and worship, on heavenly-mindedness, and on covenant and the church. Appendixes provide readers with a chronological list of Owen’s writings and a guide to them for those who wish to delve deeper into this great theologian’s thoughts.

We benefit spiritually when we read the works of the great men of God who've gone before us, men who God gave to His church to assist in her edification and growth.  Sadly, not only are there many in the church today who are ignorant of this great treasure, there are also many who struggle to make their way through long volumes filled with now archaic language and grammar.  We ignore these great treasures to our own detriment, it is our loss.

This book attempts to remedy this situation by introducing us to the puritan John Owen, a giant of the faith who left us many great works, works that for modern readers are very hard to work through.   His writings have been likened to digging for gold in a stony field using a pick axe.  It is very hard work, and to make that effort is a daunting task.  However their is much pure spiritual gold to be found.

I own some of Owen's works and to be honest, the only ones I can read much of are the modernized versions of Communion with God and his treatment on temptation and mortification, both by Kelly Kapic and edited by Justin Taylor.  In fact Ryan quotes extensively from Communion with God in this work.

So like the books I just mentioned, this book takes Owen and using modern language and grammar, gives us the goods, an introduction to his writings on the Trinity, his thoughts on true worship and the means of grace, and his thoughts on how to truly commune with the God who has saved us, all of this tied into a historic, reformed framework.  How helpful to see how Owen ties the means of grace (the means God uses to grow us spiritually) into the corporate worship services where we receive Word and Sacrament.  We grow and commune with God as we worship together with the saints and hear the Word preached.  It is a concept lost on much of modern evangelicalism with it's focus on an individualistic relationship, a "me and Jesus on the beach, drinking Starbucks together" mentality, where church is an afterthought.  Maybe I go, maybe I don't. 

There are forty one chapters, each fairly brief but every one full of rich spiritual truth.  These chapters are divided under the three main sections of the book:
1.  Knowing God as Triune.
2.  Heavenly mindedness and apostasy.
2.  Covenant and Church.

Ryan did a great job here, I loved reading this book and it makes me want to dig deeper into Owen's works, which is exactly what this book is designed to do!  This is a helpful and delightful little book and I highly recommend it!  Get a copy, read it, and pass it on to someone else. Five stars.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

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