3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Makes Owen More Accessible,
This review is from: Communion with the Triune God (Paperback)
Highlighting the Character of the Book
Communion with the Triune God is a republishing of John Owen's original work Communion with God (1657). Kapic and Taylor have done a good job of making this work available to the modern reader. They have left the original vocabulary, providing definitions in the footnotes for words no longer in common use. In addition, they have updated the method of Scripture citation and the usage of pronouns. (Sorry, no "thee" or "thou"). They have also provided an outline of the work with page numbers to make it easier for the reader to follow along.
The introduction by Kelly Kapic is also very helpful in providing background on the theology of John Owen. Probably the greatest weakness of this work is Owen's allegorical interpretation of the Song of Solomon. Kapic address this in his quite well in his introduction,
"While allegorical interpretations of this great biblical poem can be highly suspect and problematic, we should nevertheless avoid throwing the baby out with the bath water....Elsewhere in Scripture God is described as in a marital relationship with Israel, and Christ is the groom of his church, the bride. In fact, one day there will be a great wedding celebration when this relationship will be consummated in its fullness! Given such imagery, it is not unreasonable for theologians to speak of the believer's intimate communion, communication, and even what Owen calls `conjugal relations' with the Son. To draw this all from the Song of Songs would be problematic; to recognize this general motif in Scripture seems wholly appropriate." (34)
Highlighting the Content of the Book
The depth of understanding and exposition that Owen demonstrates in presenting this topic is difficult to summarize even in a few paragraphs. Since we have communion with the Triune God, Owen's work is divided into three parts to show how we commune with each person of the Trinity distinctly.
Regarding the believer communion with the Father, Owen shows that it consists primarily in love. The Father initiates the relationship by showing love toward His people, and they respond by returning love to Him. This love is mediated through Jesus Christ. Owen does a good job of showing the ways in which our love is the same as God's love, and yet how it is different as well. In addition, as is typical of a puritan work like this, the author anticipates and addresses possible objections to the doctrines presented.
The bulk of the book deals with the believer's communion with Son. While he begins by showing how Christ loves His church and how they response to his love, the majority of the section sets forth "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ" (2Co 13:14). He shows how the believer's love toward Christ is ultimately a result of them finding him to be "altogether lovely" on account of His being "full of grace" (Jn 1:14).
"Upon the payment of the great price of his blood, and full acquittal on the satisfaction he made, all grace whatsoever becomes, in a moral sense, his, at his disposal; and he bestows it on, or works it in, the hearts of his by the Holy Ghost, according as, in his infinite wisdom, he sees it needful. How glorious is he to the soul on this consideration! That is most excellent to us, which is suits us in a wanting condition - that which gives bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, mercy to the perishing. All our reliefs are thus in our Beloved. Here is the life of our soul, the joy of our hearts, our relief against sin and deliverance from the wrath to come." (171)
The final section sets forth the believers communion with the Holy Spirit. Owen focuses in on the Spirits ministry as "the Comforter." He shows how the Spirit works with the word of God to bring comfort to the soul in the midst of trials. He also addresses the believers responsibility to "not grieve the Holy Spirit" (Eph 4:30), to "not quench the Spirit" (1Th 5:19), and to not resist the Holy Spirit (Act 7:51). Let me end with these words by Owen concerning our fellowship with the Spirit,
"His work we look for, his fruits we pray for; and when any effect of grace, any discovery of the image of Christ implanted in us, gives us a persuasion of our being separated and set apart for God, we have a communion with him therein" (381)