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Communion with God: The Divine and the Human in the Theology of John Owen [Paperback]

By Kelly M. Kapic (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.46" Width: 4.96" Height: 0.82"
Weight:   0.86 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2007
Publisher   Baker Publishing Group
ISBN  0801031443  
EAN  9780801031441  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Focuses on the idea of communion with God in the work of Puritan theologian John Owen, covering key areas like anthropology, the Trinity, and the Lord's Supper.

Publishers Description
The Puritan John Owen is best remembered today for his theological writings on high Calvinism, traditional orthodoxy, church polity, and the pursuit of holiness. According to Kelly M. Kapic, Owen is being rediscovered by a variety of people today, including theologians, evangelical ministers, and laypeople interested in classic forms of spirituality. With this diverse audience in mind, Kapic focuses on the concept of communion with God in Owens thought, covering key areas such as anthropology, Christology, trinitarian studies, and the Lord's Supper.

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More About Kelly M. Kapic

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Kelly M. Kapic (PhD, King's College, University of London) is professor of theological studies at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, where he has taught for over a decade. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of several books, including "The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics." Bruce L. McCormack (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary; DrTheol hc, Friedrich Schiller University) is Charles Hodge Professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. A world-renowned Barth scholar, he is a frequent writer and lecturer on topics of Reformed theology.

Kelly M. Kapic was born in 1972.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
The Century of the Puritans!  Oct 8, 2008
During the last century with the rise of Pentecostalism some had said the 20th century was the century of the Holy Spirit. With the influx of reprinting of Puritan works and works on the theology of Puritans, it could easily be said that perhaps the 21st century is the century of the Puritans. In this new release, Communion with God, by Kelly Kapic (Associate Professor of Theological Studies at Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, GA), this most wonderful trend continues.

Kapic is no stranger to the Puritans or to Owen. He has preciously edited with Randall Gleason, The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics (IVP) and has recently updated a number of John Owen's works with the help of Justin Taylor (Overcoming Sin and Temptation and Communion with the Triune God both from Crossway). This volume is the edited substance of his PhD dissertation from King's College, University of London).

Owen serves as crucial figure for study in the life of the Puritans. The "Calvin of England," the chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, the Presbyterian turned Congregationalist, the writer of numerous books, the preacher of many sermons, the scholarly academic, the admirer of the country preacher (Bunyan to be precise), Owen is a necessary figure to study. Many find him daunting as his writing has been referred to as "dense." Therefore, a study like Kapic's on the relationship of the divine and human in Owen's thought, is most needed in our day of both historical and theological imprecision.

The primary thrust then of the thought of the book revolves around the relationship between God and man. Kapic writes near the end of his introductory chapter on the life of Owen, "Since humanity was created to commune with God, the theological enterprise must be primarily concerned with understanding humanity in its relation with God. As we see at the very end of our study, being made in God's image is primarily about loving Jesus Christ, who is the mediator between God and humanity. This unique relationship is ultimately what defines being in communion with God" (pp. 33-34). Kapic then proceeds to flesh out this thinking in the following chapters. Chapter 2 deals with exploring humanity as made in the image of God and works through Owen's use of faculty psychology, and a brief survey of humanity through history, providing a framework for fitting creation, fall, and redemption into Owen's thinking on the relationship between God and man. In chapter 3 Kapic turns to the ultimate expression of relationship between God and man, the God-man, Jesus Christ and answers questions like, why the incarnation? Chapter 4 deals with the issue of justification and works through Owen's understanding of faith and his disagreement with Roman Catholic opponents and how he understands negative and positive imputation. Chapter 5 moves to the main core of the book which is human communion with God. Specifically Kapic looks at Owens's creative attempt to view the Trinity within the context of worship. Finally, in chapter 6, he turns to the Lord's day and the Lord's supper which are two examples that Owen uses to foster the relationship between God and man.

The book is a great success in working through the massive writing of Owen on these issues and develops for readers today, a helpful theological construct in understanding the theology behind the relationship between God and man. In a day when there is an incredible lack of focus on precision in theology, especially in the life of the church, a study of a great theologian and church man like Owen on these issues is incredibly important. In a brief review like this, one cannot work through all the work that Kapic has done here but suffice to say, this is a rich work that deserves wide readership and hopefully, a desire to go back to the sources and read Owen himself. Owen has much to say to readers today if they are willing to pursue the hard work of mining the riches of this great man. The importance of this book is summed up from part of the forward by the great student of the Puritan's himself, J.I. Packer:

For understanding, enjoying, and communicating communion with God was what Owen understood his life and ministry to be all about. His writings reveal him as not only an evangelical confessor and controversialist in the Reformed mainstream, but also as a Calvinist catechist, weaving in applicatory pastoral rhetoric at every point. Dr. Kapic coins the word anthroposensitive to characterize this aspect of his expository method. It fits. This is a landmark book in modern Puritan study, and it is a joy to commend it.

This reviewer completely agrees. This book is recommended for seminary students and professors, pastors, and believers who have a serious desire to study in depth theology and church history. Tolle lege!
Theologically rich, highly scholastic, yet not overwhelmingly unreadable  Oct 30, 2007
In addition to exploring John Owen's `anthroposensitive' theology in regard to communion with the Triune God, Prof. Kapic simultaneously exposes other peculiar insights that I found very thoughtful. The readers will find that, while anthroposensitive pastorally, the foundation of Owen's anthroposensitivity is Christocentric throughout the text. The thesis of this study is that a true postlapsarian communion with God can only be a reality in the context of Christology. To arrive to this conclusion, some pre-requisite treatments are appropriately given on the creation of man as the image of God and how this image was shattered in the Fall; on the necessity of a Mediator to restore this broken communion, and how it is only possible if the Mediator is both God and man, which in turn necessitates an incarnation for this Mediator, fulfilled in the God-man Jesus Christ, to carry out the reconciliation between God and humanity. The treatment on these subjects involves plenty of theological jargons and references that could potentially be intimidating. In the chapter that deals with communion with God itself, though still highly academic, I find it the most affectionate section of the book.

On communion with the Father, for example, "Owen encourages his readers to use their imagination by asking them to picture anything that appears to have a loving and tender nature in the world, and after imagining away any imperfections or weaknesses, the love of the Father becomes easier to conceive: He is as a father, a mother, a shepherd, a hen over chickens. All these earthly manifestation of love serve as imperfect pointers to the source of love itself, the perfect love of the Father."(p.170). Further down the line of thoughts, under the same heading of the communion and love of the Father, he also commented, "Believers also discover God to be their rest and delight. While the soul has looked for a place to rest from its wanderings, nothing it has loved satisfies its longing until it embraces God, who alone fills the soul with present and eternal rest," (p.172), which does two things. First, it reminds me of Augustine's famous quote, "that he is happy who possesses God. You made us for yourself, and our hearts find no peace till they rest in you."

Second, this could be a reference of Owen's uncommon interpretation of Heb 4:10. Here we see the difficulty associated with the word "he" which is in the King James Version that Owen most likely used, and modern translations that use the word "anyone" (NIV) and "whoever" (ESV) that causes a significantly different interpretation. While most scholars agree that "he" or "whoever" or "anyone" in v.10 refers to believers and the word "rest" means the eternal rest in heaven, Owen, on the contrary, gives convincing arguments why "he", not "anyone" or "whoever", actually refers to Christ and "rest" refers to Christ resting, not literally, after the Resurrection; the completion of his redemptive work. The "rest" referred to here is not only primarily "peace and communion with God" which is available to all believers at the present time, but also points to a future blessedness of an interrupted eternal communion with God in heaven, and indeed is exhorted in the next verse 11, where "us" refers to believers, and "make every effort to enter this rest" means to earnestly pursue to delight in this most precious communion with God, even at the present time, which Prof J.I Packer describes as "the essence of true religion" and "the definition of Christianity."

On the work of each Person of the Trinity, Owen summarizes it as follows, "The emanation of divine love to us begins with the Father,... the Father designing, the Son purchasing, the Spirit effectually working." (p.187) To me, this sounds like the doctrine of the sovereignty, exhaustive foreknowledge of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Now while covering the communion with the Holy Spirit, I saw a warning for both sides of evangelical camps; the Cessasionists and the "Enthusiasts"; the former being those who tend to discount today's greater miraculous manifestations of the Holy Spirit and the latter being the Pantecostals who tend to go to the other extreme. On p.219 and in the table on p.220, Owen indicates the danger of both extremes. On the Cessasionists' side where there tends to be a paranoia when the subject of the Holy Spirit is brought up, the results are, "... dependence on the Spirit's ministry and gifting is lessened, leaving instead a sophisticated liturgy devoid of spiritual power", "... the Spirit is neglected. ... cry up ordinances without the Spirit, a ministry without the Spirit, reading of word enough without preaching or praying by the Spirit, [and] allowed a literal embracing of what Christ had done in the flesh." To my surprise, in response to this extreme, "Owen boldly proclaims, `Let us be zealous of the gifts of the Spirit, not envious at them.'" The effects of the other extreme are equally dangerous, where Owen believes in this case, "... Satan's tactic moved from outrightly opposing the Spirit to masquerading as him," and the resulting errors are, "Cry up a spirit without and against ordinances, a spirit without ministry, the Spirit is enough without reading or studying the Word, [and] talks of Christ in the Spirit only, denying he came in the flesh."

Likewise, Owen warns the danger of both extremes in the last chapter, of interpreting the Lord's Supper; transubstantiation and empty symbolism; or in my view, a better way to describe the latter is "thoughtless and affectionless symbolism". Indeed Owen seems to be hammering over and over again on the importance and preciousness of a heartfelt observation of the Lord's Supper; the reason being not only is it for "our further growth in Christ", but also through which we "enjoy a special (and here I would add personal) fellowship with God", and the participation of which "brings the same advantage as there would have been if we had stood by the cross." Finally, there are some quotes worth pondering at the end; "Proportional to the renovation of the image and likeness of God upon any of our souls, is our love to Jesus Christ. He that knows Christ most, is most like unto God; for there the soul of God rests... Human communion with God occurs in, with and through the incarnate Christ. The person who seeks renewal in God's image must exercise his love for Christ... Humans reflect God to the degree that they love Jesus Christ... A person never images God more clearly than when he or she is loving Jesus Christ. To love Christ is to love God; to oppose Christ is to oppose God. To be loved by Christ is to be loved by God. To be fully human as originally created is to be in communion with God, and that fellowship can only be centered upon Christ, where God and humanity meet." (p.232-233)


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