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The Fourfold Context of John Owen’s The Work of the Holy Spirit in Prayer (1682)

April 23, 2010

John Owen (1616–1683) considered prayer the heart of all religion: “All men will readily acknowledge that as without it [prayer] there can be no religion at all, so the life and exercise of all religion doth principally consist therein.”[1] For Owen, prayer was an indispensable element of religion, as he again said: “without it there neither is nor can be the exercise of any religion in the world.”[2] Owen discussed the subject of prayer at length in his treatise, The Work of the Holy Spirit in Prayer, written in 1682.[3] In this treatise Owen thought and wrote inseparably as a theologian of the Holy Spirit, a polemicist, a Puritan Renaissance man, and a pastor.[4] Thus, this article will examine Owen’s discourse in light of these four contexts: (1) pneumatological; (2) polemical; (3) the Puritans as a Renaissance movement; and (4) pastoral.

 

To read my entire article, click here.


        [1] John Owen, “The Work of the Holy Spirit in Prayer,” in The Works of John Owen, vol. 4, ed. William H. Goold (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust), 237.

        [2] Ibid., 251.

        [3] This discourse is Owen’s seventh book on his whole work on pneumatology in the edition of William H. Goold, volumes 3 & 4, first published by Johnstone & Hunter, 1850-53, then reprinted by the Banner of Truth Trust in 1967.

        [4] Owen’s style in writing can be generally categorized into four aspects: (1) exegesis; (2) systematic theology; (3) polemics; and (4) practical application. He would first exegete the text, then draw theology out of his exegesis, and once the doctrine had been drawn, he deduced some practical applications, and oftentimes dialogued polemically with others who had different views of the doctrine he was studying. Hence, he wrote as an exegete, systematic theologian, polemicist, and pastor. This style is also seen in other Puritans.


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