Friday, 7 December 2012

John Owen shortened

I have recently been preaching a series on sanctification on Sunday evenings - six so far and possibly two more after Christmas.

The process of preparation has drawn me into reading some of the currently available books on mortification of sin. Highly commended are Kris Lundgaard's 'The Enemy Within' and Brian Hedges' 'Licensed to Kill'. Both deal with the subject from a basis of sound theology with contemporary illustrations and effective application. Both could be safely recommended to young Christians or young people.

Both, of course, also explicitly confess their debt to John Owen's classic on the subject (in volume six of his Works). I have just finished reading the abridged version of 'Indwelling Sin in Believers' by Owen, and have, waiting to be read, similar editions of 'Mortification of Sin' and 'Temptation Resisted and Repulsed' (all Banner of Truth).

I highly recommend the abridgement I have read and anticipate enjoying the other two. They give a good grasp of Owen's basic arguments and are far and away more penetrating and profound than books that have emerged from within contemporary evangelicalism. They are serious reading but not too difficult for people today, though inevitably not quite in the modern idiom (so Lundgaard and Hedges are more helpful in that regard). They also help pressed preachers with limited preparation time.

However - they are not quite Owen himself. Having read the original volumes by Owen some years ago, there is a spirituality and depth that cannot be replicated or conveyed in an abridgement. Owen himself is a feast to be enjoyed, preferably with a little leisure (though he evidently did not write at leisure) and maybe in small doses. Today we are content to take our books in snack form, enough to keep body and soul together but hardly nourishing long term.

Abridgements and brief books based on the Puritans are immensely helpful in our frenetic, hurried and autistic age but they are no substitute for the real thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment