John Owen was not a Presbyterian
February 6, 2015
In the last month or two on Reformation21, I think it's safe to say I have decisively proven once and for all that:
1. John Wesley was an Arminian.
2. John Owen was a Paedobaptist.
I have been challenged to prove other self-evident truths, such as "John Murray was a Calvinist" and "1775 was the start of an illegal colonial rebellion." But I wouldn't want to tax the patience of our readers too much.
We may come back to those later. But for now, let me rather just finish off this mini-series on the great John Owen. True, he was not a Baptist. And what's more to the point, his covenant theology was so thoroughly not Baptistic that he himself always considered it to demand, support, and promote infant baptism. But today, I also bring to you the shocking news that...
John Owen was not a Presbyterian.
I know. It hurts doesn't it? I want to extend a hand and reach out to my brothers and sisters in the PCA, OPC, EPCEW, IPC, URC, PCUSA, BPS, RPCS (and other entirely "catholic" and not at all fissiparous denominations of the Presbyterian variety). I feel your pain, my friends. A great theologian of the past that you know and love is about to be unmasked as not in "perfect harmony" or "practically identical" to what we think of as "sound."
So, what evidence do I adduce for this startling claim, which will no doubt silence the Reformed world? None. I'm too busy. I leave it to the well-developed Presbie blogosphere to point out the perfidious nature of my nefarious misrepresentation. That'll be fun and entertaining! They can surely demonstrate how, since Owen agrees with them on a few things here and there, he must therefore have been "one of them." Though I will say this:
"It is only by a process of torture to which no man's language should be subjected that Owen can be claimed as a Presbyterian."
This from the editorial comments in The Works of John Owen, volume 16 page 2. From the pen of a minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland! Outrageous.
I don't have time to go into how Owen thought silly, confused, control-freak, power-hungry Presbyterians were a greater threat to the Reformation and the church of Christ than even the nasty Laudian Anglicans had been.
You can't make this stuff up, but it's all there in Owen's Works if you care to read them. Who'd thunk it? I mean, what next? You'll be telling me Owen was an ordained Anglican who loved The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion next...
Revd Gatiss is still committed to that promised post on how John Owen was a good Anglican. But he's got to bombproof his windows and doors first, in case any nonconformists come a-calling.