Reformed Arsenal

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Book Review: The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen

TRI06BH_2_200x1000Although all Christian theology is trinitarian in its shape, theology that is self-consciously and intentionally trinitarian holds a special place in my heart. It therefore follows, that theologians who do theology that is self-consciously and intentionally trinitarian also hold a special place in my heart. I recently read the Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen by Sinclair Ferguson. This short book explores the life and theology of the non-conformist puritan.

There isn’t much more to add beyond what I have remarked in reviews of other books in the Long Line of Godly Men series. The book is short, approachable, and an excellent entry into the study of its subject. Like others in the series, it boarders on hagiography and has little time or space for critique. Recognizing that the objective of the book is not to criticize, but to edify readers, this is understandable… if not a bit annoying to an academe like myself.

What does make this book unique in comparison to others in the series is the author. The bulk of the other books have been written by Steven Lawson or Douglas Bond. However, Ligonier brought in Ferguson specifically for this work. Ferguson is not only a stellar theologian in his own right, but he is also an expert on Owen, and his expertise shows through in this little work. Perhaps unrelated, but important none-the-less remarkable, is that this volume contains substantially less primary source quotes than others in the series. While some may not appreciate this, I have found the copious quotation to be tedious and somewhat out of place in a this kind of popular work, so a departure from this trend was a welcome surprise.

Beyond simply a biographical account of Owen’s life and ministry, this short work also serves as a useful primer on trinitarian theology. Since it is couched in the story of Owen’s life and his developing corpus of work, it may not come off as quite as cold or detached as some systematic approaches may. Because of this, I think it is a great primer to give to someone who is looking for an introduction to the topic. In addition, because Owen (although not without his idiosyncrasies) is an exemplar puritan, this volume also makes a handy introduction to puritan thought and writings.

Please note: Reformation Trust / Ligonier Ministries has provided me with an electronic version of this book for review purposes, and will be providing me with a hard copy edition in exchange for this review. They do not require positive reviews, nor have they edited or modified this review in any way.